The chief executive officer of Heathrow Airport, a major airport in London, has reportedly unveiled that despite an industry-wide global labor shortage that could take 18 months to settle, Heathrow passengers will not experience substantial disruptions this summer.
Following an assessment of its operations, Gatwick Airport stated that it will reduce the number of flights this summer to 825 in July and 850 in August, to allow passengers to experience a more efficient and improved standard of service.
Flights were disrupted significantly at airports around the UK during a tumultuous half-term week that culminated in the Jubilee weekend, raising fears that similar disruptions could occur during the summer holidays coming month.
Heathrow's CEO, John Holland-Kaye, further stated that passengers had only experienced small delays and defended the industry against allegations of failing to cope with the resurgence of traveler demand after two years of COVID lockdowns.
Holland-Kaye added that it is quite easy to put the brakes on an industry, resulting in massive job losses, but significantly more difficult to scale it back up. He also clarified that this problem does not exist solely in the UK.
The CEO added that before the Covid-19 pandemic, 250,000 ground handlers were working across Europe. In recent times this number has shrunk to 120,000, indicating the magnitude of the recruitment effort that is required.
Shortage of staff in airport ground services, such as luggage handling, security, cleaning, and among airline flight crews, was the primary reason for the disruption, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights on short notice.
Holland-Kaye remains confident that enough employees will be equipped to overcome the summer rush at the UK's busiest airport. He warned, however, that resolving labor disputes may take over a year.
According to Gatwick, the drop in daily flights will help airlines to handle more predictable schedules and assist ground handling firms over the school holidays, although the overwhelming majority of scheduled flights will run as usual this summer.