British holidaymakers’ plans have gone awry in light of the way many airlines and tour operators oversold flights and vacation packages ahead of the June bank holiday.
Tui, one of the leading travel companies in the United Kingdom, announced that they would be canceling six flights per day throughout the month of June. The move will affect nearly 34,000 travelers who booked their trips through the company.
Airlines like EasyJet have also canceled flights, citing an ongoing staff shortage. EasyJet and a number of other airline companies are currently struggling to recruit staff to replace the thousands laid off over the past couple of years when COVID-19 drew international travel to a halt.
Nevertheless, Airlines UK, the trade organization that represents Tui, EasyJet, and British Airways, released a statement that the majority of booked flights will operate as scheduled.
According to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps he was distressed by the number of people whose vacation plans have been canceled and the way operations have been disrupted at the country’s airports.
Nearly two million Britons expected to fly over the Jubilee weekend, but a number of airlines have canceled flights in the past few days because of issues related to overbooking.
Shapps is set to meet with relevant officials from airlines, airports, as well as ground handling facilities to get to the bottom of the issue and to see how this may best be resolved.
The Transport Secretary added that operators seeking to cash in on the upcoming bank holiday oversold flights and tour packages well beyond their capacity to deliver. With the first summer post-COVID coming up, he expressed that such overselling should not happen again and that the government and tourism sector need to work together to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
An Industry Speaks Up
However, representatives from the British aviation industry and tourism sector say that they were only given a few weeks to bounce back from the setbacks they encountered during the pandemic.
Paul Charles, a former director on the board of Virgin Atlantic and currently CEO of travel consultancy firm The PC Agency, strongly declared that the government also had its part to play in the current issue. Charles said that constantly changing government restrictions compounded by the imposed shutdown of both domestic and international travel during the Omicron spike in December of last year were what led to this week’s slew of cancellations.
Staff shortages for both airlines and travel companies have further impacted the issue. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 140,000 people worked in the UK aviation and travel industries. Today, UK airlines have cut over 30,000 jobs and a number of former travel company employees remain unemployed even as the industry scrambles to augment its workforce.