How Europe’s airports have become chokepoints for summer travel
Airports in Europe have replaced US hubs as choke points for the sudden post-pandemic travel recovery, which has overwhelmed sectors of air transport infrastructure.
While operational problems have diminished in the United States, they have increased at European airports, where crowds have overwhelmed major airports, including London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol.
“Heathrow and Amsterdam [face] shortages in terms of mainly security and baggage handling staff, as well as check-in staff and other ground handling personnel,” said Eddy Pieniazek, Chief consultancy for London-based Ishka, a global information and consultancy firm.
“If you then layer on other localized issues, baggage system failures like at Heathrow recently or even airspace limitations — [which] were happening in Europe even before the pandemic – you get the hotspots and the outbreaks that grab the headlines,” Pieniazek said.
“Heathrow and Amsterdam are among the busiest in terms of volume, so any issues there tend to be compounded,” he said.
In contrast, Delta Air Lines
Bastian went on to say that Delta has addressed its operational issues by halting capacity increases, boarding earlier and implementing other measures. During a recent seven-day period in July, Delta canceled just 25 of its 30,000 scheduled flights, he said.
In Europe, the problems are piling up and the efforts of airports to adapt are poorly perceived. On Tuesday, Heathrow said it would only handle 100,000 departing passengers a day until September 11, due to understaffing, after problems with long security lines, lost luggage and long departure delays. In 2019, the airport handled approximately 105,000 daily departures.
On Thursday, Emirates, which operates six LHR flights daily, called the airport limits “unreasonable and unacceptable” and said it would reject them. It is “very unfortunate that LHR last night gave us 36 hours to comply with the capacity reductions, a figure that seems to come out of nowhere,” Emirates said.
The carrier said it planned to be ready to serve passengers, but “LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not to invest,” Emirates said. “Now facing an ‘airmageddon’ situation due to their incompetence and inaction, they are pushing all the burden – of the costs and the rush to sort out the mess – onto the airlines and the travellers.”
Baggage safeguards at Heathrow were so poor that on Monday, after a scheduled flight was canceled, Delta operated an A330 from LHR to Detroit carrying 1,000 bags, which were then passed on to the airline.it is passengers elsewhere.
Brussels Airport leads Europe in terms of delays. On Tuesday, a report by travel booking site Hopper said that so far this month, “Brussels, Frankfurt and Eindhoven [in The Netherlands] The airports recorded the worst on-time performance of major European airports, with more than two-thirds of flights delayed and at Frankfurt International Airport almost 8% of outgoing flights cancelled.
“Airlines and airports across Europe have struggled to meet growing travel demand resulting from nearly two years of closed borders and depressed travel during the highest waves of the covid-19 pandemic” , said Hopper. “Airlines are struggling to service scheduled flights on time, if at all, as they face staff shortages on the ground and in the air. Airports have been struggling with staff shortages that have left passengers in long queues for security checkpoints and customer service.
The report notes that not all European airports are experiencing significant disruption this month, “with Bergamo [Milan]Dublin and Madrid airports report less than 20% flights delayed and less than 2% canceled on departure.
Ishka’s Pieniazek said the staffing problem, at root, is that “the European market has seen a drain of ground staff from airports and airlines to other industries like pharmaceuticals and IT. (as in Ireland) or even to supermarket chains (as in Lisbon).
“Thanks to the pandemic, many people have changed their approach to work, opting for more satisfying, more flexible and less stressful employment,” he said. “The problem with most airport jobs is that you cannot work from home, so airport/airline work may now have less appeal and is also considered a more volatile and less secure job. .
“Filling staffing gaps takes time,” added Pieniazek. “Ramp-up/induction of airport staff, especially in security related positions, can take two months to pass through security checks, and you can double that in some countries if you have a passport different from the country you live in,” he said.
In June, Amsterdam Schiphol said in June that it would allow 67,500 daily passengers in July and 72,500 in August, about 13,500 passengers less than the airline’s planned capacity. “A tight labor market has meant there are too few security personnel to perform the necessary checks on all travelers wanting to fly this summer,” the airport said.
On CNBC, Delta’s Bastian said federal aid totaling $58 billion has helped the US airline industry recover from the pandemic faster than Europe. “Can you imagine if our government hadn’t stepped in and provided the capital for the airlines to give to their airlines to keep our employees engaged, to keep the airport employees engaged? He asked. “Many of their employees were [let go] and they had a great time getting them back.
“It’s going to take time to get European traffic back on track,” he said.