British leisure travel group Jet2 has issued some harsh words of criticism for airports and ground handlers over the lack of staffing that has caused disruption to passengers hoping to escape on vacation after pandemic lockdowns.
The company, which offers package holidays and runs its own airline, said most of the key airports that it operates from in the UK had failed to adequately plan for the return of travel demand.
Images of long lines at airports and airlines cancelling flights due to aviation industry staffing shortages have hit headlines over the last few weeks.
“Although we invested well ahead of the summer season to ensure we had adequate resources to be able to operate efficiently and we also self‐handle at many of our key airport bases, we have been directly impacted by the broader disruption seen across the aviation sector and its supply chains,” Jet2 chairman Philip Meeson said in a statement accompanying annual results on July 7, 2022.
Meeson noted flights had been on sale for many months and load factors were “quite normal”. He said most of Jet2’s 10 UK base airports were “woefully” ill-prepared and poorly resourced.
“Inexcusably, many Suppliers simply did not plan, prepare or invest for a normal summer season and are now suffering from the difficult employment market which has meant us incurring additional costs to recover the consequent disruption to our flying programme,” he wrote.
Meeson also criticized poor customer service at ground handling companies, long security lines and airport congestion, saying this was resulting in poor experiences for travelers and putting pressure on Jet2 employees.
To reward employees during this “very challenging time”, Meeson said Jet2 staff would be receiving a total pay increase of 8% with a further £1,000 ($1,199) to be paid to all employees at the end of Summer 22.
Jet2 said its financial performance for the current year to March 31, 2023, depends on how quickly the wider aviation sector stabilizes operations, as well as bookings for the second half of the year. While rising inflation is a concern, Jet2 said it believed package holidays represented a good product in difficult economic times.
In the year to March 31, 2022, Jet2 carried 4.85 million single sector passengers, and reduced its operating loss by 4% to £323.9 million ($388 million).