European aviation sector predicts summer with serious problems

by Lorraine Williamson
aviation sector
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MADRID – The recovery in demand in the European aviation sector and the staff shortage, threatens the smooth functioning of the operations for this summer. 

Both the International Airports Council of Europe (ACI Europe) and the Association of Airport Services (ASA) have warned of the problems European airports will face this summer. Issues that will affect both employees and passengers. 

 “In the summer there could be another disaster if we don’t take action” 

The easing of travel restrictions in virtually all European countries has “suddenly” accelerated the recovery of passenger traffic. The chaos of last Easter at several UK airports makes for a prediction of summer with serious problems. Managing large flows of passengers trying to reach their holiday destinations via European airports is always going to be difficult!

Challenge for airports and operational partners 

ACI Europe and ASA point out that traffic is still below pre-pandemic levels (2019). However, it is much more concentrated in “peak periods”. This is something that poses a “challenge” to airports and their operational partners, such as ground handling services. 

Increase in delays and cancellations 

This situation has led to an increase in flight delays and cancellations. In addition, there are long delays in key airport processes such as check-in, security check, and baggage drop. 

Aviation sector staffing levels 

After the collapse in 2020 and 2021, many airport workers were laid off to cut costs. Consequently, both organisations are pointing directly to the inability to restore pre-pandemic staffing levels. As they need to accommodate the massive increase in air traffic. 

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“The fact that airports and ground handling services receive much less financial support than airlines, and that that aid comes too late, has been a determining factor in the weakening of operational capabilities.” 

“The fact that security and ground handling jobs have been at the bottom of the pay scale for years and workers often work in shifts seven days a week is a clear disadvantage in attracting new workers in the context of current inflation and tightness in several European labor markets, conclude both organisations. 

IAG will also reduce flights 

For example, the Spanish-British International Airlines Group IAG acknowledges that it does not have enough staff to work with British Airways after the wave of layoffs it made during the pandemic. Therefore, the company will have to bolster its workforce with Spanish crews from other airlines. 

But it is also having problems with London’s Heathrow airport, as it keeps some terminals closed and does not allow it to operate normally as more documentation is required to board due to Brexit and Covid. However, the group has already announced that it will reduce the number of flights for this summer. 

Also read: Aviation recovery less than expected

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