by Andreas Kokkinos
Cases involving long delays, flight cancellations or lost luggage have been on the rise lately, creating chaos at many airports and causing great concern for those who plan to travel.
Lufthansa canceled 3,100 flights after a wave of coronavirus cases worsened staff shortages, intensifying chaos at airports
Airports and airlines are unable to cope with increasing passenger traffic coming at a time when the world, more than two years after the arrival of the pandemic, is trying to return to the reality of travel.
Britain and Germany are the bulk of the problem
Speaking to Kathimerini, the Honorary President of the Association of Travel Agents, Mr. Akis Kelepeshis, analyzed the problems faced by many countries - and by extension their airports - that are traditionally visited by Cypriots. "The most serious issues are found in Britain and Germany, while if I had to add a third country, I would say the Netherlands," he said. The issue of understaffing at airports and in airlines is the main core of the problem but this is not the only issue. The global increase in covid cases, according to Mr. Kelepeshis, is a particularly aggravating factor since it raises the workload in the already understaffed units creating an almost natural chaos.
Problems are also specifically observed at airports that are transfer stations, i.e. serving connecting flights. In cases where the time between the two flights is less than one hour and with delays in procedures such as passport checks, identity cards, and check-ins, there are many who do not catch up and miss flights. The problem becomes even greater when it comes to destinations with limited connectivity that do not immediately provide the option for immediate disembarkation.
A barrage of cancellations with British and Lufthansa
Britain's busiest airport, London Heathrow, last week asked airlines to reduce flights as it couldn't handle the number of passengers. According to aviation data company Cirium, 400 flights were canceled at all UK airports between June 24 and June 30, representing a 158% increase in the same seven-day period in 2019.
On the other hand, Lufthansa is canceling 3,100 flights after a wave of coronavirus cases exacerbated staff shortages, intensifying the chaos at Europe's airports as the critical summer holiday season begins. The German airline canceled 2,200 domestic and European routes for July and August, according to Bloomberg. They come in addition to the 900 cancellations announced earlier this month. Lufthansa shares fall as much as 3.3% in Frankfurt.
What you need to know if you are going to travel
What should those who are preparing to travel pay attention to? As mentioned in the report of my colleague Maria Herakleous in "Economiki", those who will travel in the next period should be prepared for delays and changes to itineraries. In order to avoid inconvenience as much as possible, but also to reduce the risk of missing their flight, the president of the Cyprus Travel Agents Association, Vassilis Stamataris, recommends the following:
- Choose direct flights over flights with a stopover, even if they are more expensive.
- If a stopover is necessary, it is better to have, at the very least, a 2-hour gap between flights in order to minimize the risk of missing the flight due to delays.
- Each airline makes its own flight schedules, so passengers are advised to choose an airline with several options to their destination.
- The passenger should monitor the notifications from the airlines and be in contact with them before the flight in order to confirm the exact departure time.
- Passengers must be at the airport at least 2 hours before their departure in case they are faced with long lines for check-in.
- Avoid combining multiple airlines, especially during such a period. “It is not the wisest thing to have to deal with many different companies on one route," says Mr. Stamataris.
- Know in advance the refund or compensation rules of each airline.