UK authorities call on airlines to prioritize passengers amid travel chaos

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As travel disruptions continue to cause chaos across the industry, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) and Department for Transport (DfT) have written a joint letter ordering airlines to improve communication with passengers in advance of air travel. 

The letter, which was signed by Richard Moriarty, CAA Chief Executive and Rannia Leontaridi Director General, Aviation, Maritime and Security, DfT, urged airlines to “prioritize passengers and treat their needs sensitively”. 

“We ask you to review the information you are providing to passengers and ensure that you proactively engage with passengers,” the letter continued.  

“To this end, we ask that you contact them in advance of their travel, such as in their booking email, to outline what they can expect for their travel this summer,” the letter continued. 

In the letter, airlines were asked to include the below information as “a minimum”: 

  • Recommended arrival times at their departure airport  
  • Tips and preparation for travel such as the air travel checklist  
  • How and when to request special assistance, aligned with the CAA guidance  
  • Who and how to contact you if things go wrong
  • Their rights if their flight is cancelled or delayed, in particular;
    • covering re-routing to their destination at the earliest opportunity;
    • care and assistance; and 
    • refunds, compensations and reimbursements 
  • What to do if baggage is lost, damaged or delayed  

While the rebound of air travel is positive for the industry, airlines and airports are facing a storm of operational challenges during the summer season of 2022. 

Airlines and airports have announced cancellations and capacity caps to handle the return of travel demand. 

In early July, Reuters reported that British Airways would cut its summer flight schedule by 11%, resulting in around 1,000 cancelled flights to destinations in Europe from its hubs at Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport. 

London Heathrow chief executive John-Holland-Kaye announced in a statement on July 12, 2022, that the airport had introduced a “capacity cap with effect from July 12 to September 11”. 

The airport said it believes airlines, ground handlers and the airport can collectively serve no more than 100,000 departing passengers a day during the busy summer period.   

Heathrow Airport is also in conflict with Emirates after giving the airline 36-hour notice to comply with capacity cuts. The airport has urged carriers to reduce flights amid current disruptions during the summer travel peak. 

However, Emirates issued a statement refusing the airport’s demands, calling them “unreasonable and unacceptable”.  


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