We are all hungry for a holiday. With the end of entry rules in many countries and concerns about travel ease, many people are hoping to get away this summer.
But the excitement of going abroad was marred by airport chaos, flights canceled and several hours queuing. Even if travel bans can be lifted, recent problems at airports have left many unsure whether they should book.
So when airlines said it was very difficult to predict what would happen in the next 12 months, we went to the Routes aviation conference to find out their travel plans for next year.
Will the chaos at the airport continue this summer?
The bad news is that the chaos seen at airports across Europe in recent months seems to be set to continue.
Airlines are working hard to reshuffle their teams to have enough staff on hand but as passenger numbers. increase in summer, the problem may worsen. And they say this is primarily due to staff shortages at the airports where they operate.
Managing director of Airlines For Europe Thomas Raynaert says there is no short-term solution. People left the industry pandemic period for other sectors with better wages, more satisfying jobs and better conditions. There is little chance that they will return.
Because it takes time to train staff in tasks such as security and baggage management that are currently lacking in people, the problem cannot be solved immediately.
Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice president of the International Air Transport Association for Europe, said the situation should be resolved immediately “to avoid customer frustration.”
He added that it was “unprecedented” to see an airport asking planes to cancel bookings and reservations in the future – as happened at some airports during the unrest earlier this year.
Why is there so much disruption in European airports?
Passenger numbers in March were up to 75 percent of what they were pre-pandemic, according to IATA, indicating that the aviation industry is recovering. Schvartzman explained that this could mean a return to 2019 numbers as early as 2023.
“It’s a sign of what’s to come this summer,” he said, with estimates for a very strong season. But it seems that other airports are not yet ready for this increase in traffic.
Pointed by many industry experts Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam as an example of this low readiness. The airport authority here has warned that it will be very busy there every day until and including the summer due to lack of staff.
Staff threatened strikes due to working conditions, some led to violent outbursts and Dutch flag carrier KLM had to temporarily suspend ticket sales due to the unrest.
“People wait two, sometimes three years for a holiday and that doesn’t get hurt by a lack of preparation,” Schvartzman added.
Why is airport chaos a big problem for tour operators?
For those who book their flights directly with the airlines, delays and cancellations are always fixed by taking another flight. But for people who book packages with tour operators, the situation can be a bit more difficult.
Rex Nikkels, airport purchasing specialist for TUI, says that because hotels, transfers and other parts of the trip are booked together, it makes it difficult to reschedule. This means that tour operators like them – and the people who book through them – are some of the hardest hit by the chaos at airports.
“We also need to lay off people,” he said, explaining that they lost workers during the pandemic like airports. “We’re also short on staff right now, but we can manage.”
Nikkels says this means tour companies have damaged their reputation because people can easily blame them if all the working aspects of a package holiday are not changed.
“This summer, we will face the same problems,” he added.
Do you have to plan to arrive early when you fly?
It’s easy to think that arriving too early for your flight is the solution when some are ridiculously tall.
But according to Nikkels, arriving early can cause as many problems as arriving late. People should not show up more than three hours before their flight because those who return five hours or more before departure only add to the queues, he said.
Most airlines advise passengers not to arrive before the earliest time allowed for their check-in. It’s also worth making sure your passports are still valid – especially if you’re traveling from the UK where Post-Brexit rules add to the confusion and there are delays in changes.