The northern summer of 2022 will be the first major stress test for the aviation industry after the epidemic, and it will be chaotic. Airports report unprecedented queues. A sudden explosion of flight delays and cancellations is causing travelers to miss out on cruises, trips, weddings and other major family events booked months in advance.
According to statistics, on a single day in July, more than 25,000 flight delays and 3,100 flight cancellations occurred at airports around the world Real-time flight tracking data from FlightAware.com. FlightAware released a Online Misery Map Major U.S. domestic airports showing where the most delays and cancellations are in real time.
In Australia, the chaos has been echoed during the mid-year school holidays. In one week in July, only 44 per cent of Qantas flights were on time and nearly 7 per cent were canceled. Virgin Australia experienced nearly 15 per cent cancellations for the same week, with more than half of all flights on the airline delayed.
To sort through the confusion and passenger anger, airlines responded with amputation services. British Airways slashed its summer flight schedule by 13%, followed by a reduction of 10,000 flights from late October 2022 to March 2023. For a brief period, BA banned ticket sales from its main base, London Heathrow Airport, which at the time imposed a daily departure cap of 100,000 passengers. The cap runs from July to October in response to airport staffing shortages in the areas of security, ground staff and baggage handling. In the U.S., United will cut 50 flights per day from its Newark hub starting July 1, 2022. JetBlue has already slashed its summer flight schedule by 10%, while Southwest Airlines has slashed its planned June 2022 flight schedule to 8,000.
Why Big Layoffs Are Causing Comeback Confusion
The airline industry has been in a downturn due to the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and lockdowns. At the peak of the crisis, air passenger traffic in Australia was down about 97 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, according to a parliamentary hearing on the future of Australia’s aviation industry. Airlines are mass layoffs, mothballing planes and laying off workers like golden retrievers. More than 30,000 aviation workers were suspended or laid off. That accounts for about 30 per cent of Australia’s aviation workforce, according to Scott McDean, head of the Sydney office of the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
After they were fired, most of these workers found work elsewhere, in everything from working in cybersecurity to hospitality to sending COVID samples to labs for PCR testing. Many were long-term employees, including baby boomer pilots who were approaching mandatory retirement age when the pandemic hit. Some people got layoff packages and they grabbed it. These pilots feature prominently in the ranks of senior captains.
Those spots disappeared when restrictions eased and the airline industry started to get back on its feet. There are shortages in everything from baggage handlers to check captains. Even for pilots willing and able to return to work, many are no longer eligible. Pilots must undergo periodic testing to maintain their certification. That hasn’t happened during the pandemic, and there are only so many flight simulators capable of evaluating pilots to the rigorous standards required.
supply chain bottleneck
The same supply chain bottlenecks that have disrupted production of new cars and construction supplies have also left airlines struggling with grounded planes and led to delays, cancellations and grounding of planes. In addition to the shortage of qualified engineers, airlines are having to wait longer for engine parts that need to be replaced. Aircraft that have been mothballed during the pandemic need to be brought back into service, which involves maintenance checks that could lead to competition for hangar space with in-service aircraft that have their own maintenance requirements.
Airlines often describe these incidents as technical or engineering problems, and they don’t always happen at the last minute. Planes roll off the assembly line for planned maintenance, which airlines will schedule weeks in advance, but long after airlines publish schedules and bookings. Given current aircraft and staffing issues, there may not be an alternative aircraft available, so cancellation or delay is the only option. “Technical issues” are one of the backups airlines have when they need to communicate service delays or cancellations to passengers. Which passenger would dispute that?
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