British Airways and the low-cost carrier easyJet canceled hundreds of flights due to staff shortages amid the new surge of COVID-19 virus infections among employees of both airlines.
On April 4, 2022, alone, British Airways cut around 100 flights to and from its base at Heathrow Airport (LHR) blaming higher than usual levels of employee absence because of the virus. Meanwhile, easyJet canceled 222 services between April 1 and April 4, 2022. The British low-cost carrier attempted to offset employee shortages by rostering additional standby crew members, but the effort was not enough to secure the workforce needed.
“As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness,” an easyJet spokesperson was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
Due to massive flight cancelations, travel chaos hit some of the UK’s largest airports where passengers at Heathrow (LHR), Manchester (MAN), and Edinburgh (EDI) airports were stuck in long queues while waiting for check-in. Like airlines, local airports have also faced staff shortages at the time when the demand for summer season air traveling was picking up as travel restrictions were removed.
“Our whole industry is facing staff shortages and recruitment challenges at present, after the most damaging two years in its history,” a spokesperson of Manchester Airport told BBC. “The removal of all travel restrictions after two years, coupled with the start of the summer travel season, has seen a rapid increase in passenger numbers, which is putting an enormous strain on our operation.”