British Airways will cancel about 1,500 more flights in the coming weeks as it struggles to cope with the disruption and staff shortages that have hit the travel industry this summer.
The airline on Tuesday said it would cut its summer flight schedule further because the aviation sector was facing “the most challenging period in its history”.
BA laid out plans in May to cut back 10 per cent of flights during its summer season, which runs between March and October, to try to inject reliability into its flagging operations.
The carrier has now decided to cut a further 1 per cent, which is the equivalent of about 1,500 flights, the majority of which will be taken out this month.
BA is also reviewing whether to cut yet more flights later this week, according to one person familiar with the airline’s planning, after the UK government announced an amnesty on strict rules that force airlines to use or lose their lucrative take-off and landing slots.
By cutting the flights early, BA management hopes to avoid the sort of last-minute disruption that hit some airlines in the UK during the school half-term early last month, resulting in chaotic scenes as many passengers learnt of flight cancellations after having arrived at the airport.
Still, the need to lose more flights is a blow to the airline and chief executive Sean Doyle, who had hoped the decisive action in May would allow the group to operate its pared-down schedule in full.
BA is understaffed after cutting about 10,000 employees during the pandemic, but it has also suffered from the wider resourcing issues facing the entire industry, including airports, subcontracted ground handlers and air traffic control staff.
“As the entire aviation industry continues to face into the most challenging period in its history, regrettably it has become necessary to make some further reductions. We’re in touch with customers to apologise and offer to rebook them or issue a full refund,” the airline said in a statement.
Other airlines, including easyJet and Lufthansa, have been forced to take similar action to cut their schedules after overestimating how many flights they and their suppliers would be able to deliver this summer.