Airlines in the United States have been experiencing significant delays and cancellations since the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Though staff shortages specific to the country have been limiting the local carriers, airlines outside the US have also faced similar troubles. Those attempting to book European vacations this year should think twice about that venture due to continent-wide setbacks.
European carriers face the threat of staff strikes after months of understaffing issues and accelerated travel demand. Over this past weekend, travelers to the continent had to wait hours to get on their flights because of extended delays and unexpected cancellations. These issues aren’t estimated to be quelled after murmurs of airline staff strikes have started to concern carriers worldwide. Those expecting a fun summer European vacation are getting quite the opposite, with some airlines compensating travelers to reschedule their trips.
A European airline facing similar issues to American carriers is the Scandinavian-owned SAS. On Monday, SAS canceled over 170 flights, which made up over half of the company’s flight schedule. The cancellations come when speculation of a pilot strike has recently popped up. The impending strike would continue massive cancellations for the airline and would affect 30,000 passengers every day. People attempting to board SAS for a European vacation during the July 4th weekend were met with long delays and cancellations, not unlike other carriers worldwide.
If you’re trying to fly to the UK for a European vacation, expect similar waits and frequent cancellations. Last week, UK airlines canceled over 400 flights in a seven-day period. The cancellation frequency is 158% higher than at the same time in 2019, which has led to significant frustration from travelers. Ongoing terminations of carriers’ flight schedules could ultimately diminish airline revenue, deterring travelers from flying at all. After a massive boom in demand since the widespread COVID vaccination began, airlines have struggled to keep up with more flight purchases, which could end in carriers losing thousands of customers in the future.
Airlines experiencing European vacation flyers have started reducing their flight schedules preemptively to prevent massive day-of cancellations. A low-cost airline in Switzerland, easyJet, has already cut its summer schedule in hopes of limiting customer frustration with sporadic flight delays. The financial turmoil led to easyJet’s COO resigning, fed up with the pressure of universally understaffed airlines. Other airlines may implement easyJet’s strategy over the summer to mitigate customer anger and make flying more bearable during this tumultuous time.
This past weekend, many Americans tried to make their European vacation a reality by leaving the craziness of the July 4th weekend. But, more than 12,000 flights have been delayed departing from the US since Friday, leading to hundreds of flight cancellations. As Monday began, most carriers had their schedule in order, but the damage was already done. It’s unlikely that national airlines will be able to withstand the upcoming summer months with potential strikes and continuous understaffing issues.
Many look at the summertime as an opportunity to travel abroad and get their quintessential European vacation. But with many airlines inundated with post-quarantine problems, flight cancellations will likely continue to plague world travelers until demand dies down.