Deluge of cancelled flights and strikes spark concerns in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
cancelled flights

In the middle of the high season, Spain is sad to see how thousands of flights from elsewhere in Europe are being cancelled en masse. The chaos mainly arises at foreign airports, but Spain fears the optimistic forecasts this summer. 

Worldwide, more than 25,000 flights have been cancelled in August, one of the main months tourism months. In this month there are 818 fewer flights per day scheduled. The European continent is hardest hit as 2 out of 3 cancelled flights affect Europe. 

European airports suffering from staff shortages 

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdés, told the Spanish news site Businessinsider.es that problems at airports such as Schiphol and London are due to the fact that many jobs were lost during the pandemic. 

The lifting of the restrictive measures and the start of the summer holidays will cause extra crowds at airports. And because there are far fewer staff, it is difficult for airports to cope with the large flow of passengers. The consequence of this: long queues, luggage that does not arrive or accumulates at the destination, cancellations and delays. And as a result, great disappointment of travellers who see their holiday plans fail. 

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Spain indirectly affected by chaos at foreign airports 

Valdés indicates that the personnel problems hardly affect Spain. However, tourism in Spain is experiencing the consequences of the chaos at airports abroad. In one day, thirty flights had been cancelled and more than a hundred flights to Spain were delayed. This was due to strikes by Ryanair and Easyjet. 

Should Spain adjust optimistic tourism forecasts? 

The massive cancellations have an indirect impact on tourism in Spain. The limited capacity at foreign airports means that Spain may have to adjust its tourist forecast for the summer. Quite a disappointment given that the economy in Spain is already suffering from inflation, the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine and the threat of a recession. 

Spanish government continues to believe in 90% recovery 

For the time being, the Spanish government does not want to adjust the forecasts for the income of tourism in Spain. Fernando Valdés does not expect the sector to recover before 2023 but still believes that Spain can achieve 90% of revenues this year compared to 2019, the year before the pandemic. 

With regard to bookings, Valdés confirms that 9 out of 10 foreign tourists return to Spain during the high season. Fernando Valdés: “The data on the number of bookings we have so far confirms a significant growth of the sector that will only really become noticeable in 2023.” 

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