British Airways (BA) has reportedly slashed around 2,000 flights, removing them from its schedules until the end of March.
The flights were cancelled between 26 November and 3 December, but appear to be unrelated to the UK Government’s decision to re-introduce mandatory pre-departure and day 2 PCR tests, aviation news site Simple Flying reported.
According to data from aviation analytics firm Cirium, January was hit the hardest with 1,146 cancelled flights, followed by December and March, with 545 and 243 flights less respectively.
The airline trimmed both domestic and long-haul destinations – including rotations on the Belfast-Glasgow and Belfast-Birmingham routes as well as several flights to South Africa.
“Like other airlines, due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic we are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule,” an airline spokesperson told City A.M.
According to David Warnock-Smith, professor of aviation management at Buckinghamshire New University, cutting down on scheduled flights has become normal for carriers.
“It is important to note that airline flight planning is partly a chicken and egg situation,” he told City A.M. “Carriers like BA constantly monitor the booking profile of all their advertised scheduled flights, which they typically start to advertise 12 months in advance, and they are more likely to issue flight cancellations if they can see reduced demand for flights in comparison to previous periods and an increase in passengers already asking either for a date changes or full refunds.
“Once forward demand for a flight goes below a certain threshold, the chances of achieving economic viability for an operation reduces dramatically and it is usually at this point that carriers like BA will decide to make flight cancellations.”
Just yesterday the shares of BA’s parent company IAG – alongside the like of Easyjet and Ryanair – jumped as a result of airlines shrugging off concerns about the Omicron variant.
IAG’s stocks yesterday touched a peak of 142.26p, hiking from a 127.66p bottom, while this morning they opened at a record 145.00p, the highest in a week.