Two of Europe's biggest airports are cutting back on flights to stop labor shortages causing travel chaos
Gatwick airportwill limit flightsto 825 a day in July to help cope with staff shortages.
- Schiphol in Amsterdam will cap the number of passengers at 72,500 on busy days in July and August.
Two of Europe's busiest
Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest airport, announced on Friday that it will limit the number of departures and landings to 825 a day in July and 850 a day in August to help airlines offer more reliable flight schedules during peak periods.
The limit for August is 10% lower than Gatwick's pre-pandemic capacity, The Guardian reported.
The move follows Thursday's announcement by Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in the Netherlands that it will cap the number of passengers handled to between 67,500 and 72,500 on busy days in July and August.
The global aviation sector has been battling a shortage of baggage handlers, airport management staff, and pilots, at a time when demand for travel is reaching the summer peak.
Gatwick was one of the airports to experience long queues for check-in and security, with airlines including EasyJet forced to cancel flights to cope.
The airport has recruited 400 more security staff and can now handle 900 flights a day, said its CEO Stewart Wingate.
However, a review by the airport found that a number of companies providing services continued to suffer severe staff shortages that would lead to further queues, delays and cancellations, management said in a statement.
Airlines and airports have largely outsourced critical functions such as security, baggage handling and ramp agents to other third party companies that are also affected by labor shortages.
Jude Winstanley, the UK boss of Swissport, Europe's largest baggage handling firm, told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that it had been able to hire 3,000 workers this year. However, it was taking up to three months for them to complete the referencing process and obtain security clearances, the BBC reported.
Swissport cut about half its workforce during the pandemic, per the BBC.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK's largest network of travel agents, told BBC Radio 4's Today program that the Gatwick cancellations appeared to be a "pragmatic solution" to avoid some last minute flight cancellations and delays.
Staff shortages could take as long as 18 months to resolve
Gatwick and Schiphol airport are the first to announce flight cutbacks, but others are expected to follow as the labor shortage continues to bite.
"All airports and airlines are short-staffed," Geoff Culbert, chief executive of Australia's Sydney airport told Bloomberg on Thursday. "We're not as attractive a place to work as before. There's still an element of concern around job security."
John Holland-Kaye, the boss of Heathrow, Britain's biggest airport, told a Financial Times conference last week that it could take up to 18 months for the industry to work through staff shortages and return to pre-pandemic capacity.
Last week, Wizz Air, Europe's third biggest low-cost carrier canceled all flights from Doncaster Sheffield airport in northern England. "There is understaffing in air traffic control management. There is insufficient staffing at airports and in ground handling," CEO Jozsef Varadi said.
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