The chaos at Britain’s airports in recent weeks has been little short of a national embarrassment. The farce – for that is what it is – is the child of many mothers, with government, airlines and airports all at least in part to blame. It is therefore rather frustrating that the trio seem unable to work together on a solution.
First, a reminder of how we got here: airlines battered by the collapse in global travel brought upon by Government-enforced restrictions laid off thousands of staff to minimise losses. There was sizable taxpayer support for the industry in the UK, but it wasn’t as generous as that granted to other European flag carriers. Then, when travel turned back on, the UK opened up in far greater proportion than other countries – there was perhaps more demand for foreign travel too thanks to the weather. In short – the supply of staff cannot meet the demand on airports.
Chaos ensues., with social media dominated by photographs of holidaymakers and business travelers sprawled on seats and much stomping up and down about the state of the British aviation industry.
That we are now seemingly a month into a combination of staff-shortages, overbooking and government failings without any obvious resolution is thoroughly uninspiring. And it’s hardly doing much for the reputation of global Britain.
It is time for the various interested parties to bury the hatchet and plot a path forward.
Clearly a temporary worker scheme is one obvious solution – similarly, airlines could do a far better job of planning their inevitable cancellations to prevent people turning up at airports to find no plane waiting. Airports – as Heathrow has done – should look at how many people they can actually allow through their properties considering the staff shortages.
In short – leave the blame game for the post-mortem, and get it sorted before flying into Great Britain becomes more of a hassle than its worth.