People around the world are eager to travel again as pandemic restrictions are lifted. But those considering jumping on a plane for a vacation have been frustrated by the chaos in the airline industry. In North America as in Europe, thousands of flights have been canceled and hundreds of thousands of passengers have had their journeys interrupted.
Things will get worse before they get better. Air Canada has announced that it will eliminate more than 150 daily flights for July and August. “Unfortunately, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations,” Air Canada President Michael Rousseau said in an email to customers during the meeting. announces flight reductions.
Why is this happening then? Here are the answers to some key questions about today’s air travel issues.
Why are so many flights canceled or delayed?
The main cause of the disruptions has been a shortage of trained staff at airports to cope with the recent surge in passenger traffic.
Airlines have taken advantage of recent air travel demand by bringing planes and flight times back to nearly 80% of pre-pandemic levels, with the resulting flight volume putting a significant strain on airline capacity. supporting infrastructure – airports, air traffic control and working conditions.
Are the problems only occurring at certain airports or is this a global problem?
The 2022 summer season congestion phenomenon is rapidly spreading at a number of European and North American airports. The reason for this concentration of congestion is quite simple: it is the air transport markets that have seen the highest volumes of air travelers in recent months.
The rapid elimination of COVID-19 protocols in these markets since March has generated a significant increase in demand for air travel, with passenger volumes not seen in over two years. This increase in volume was evidenced at major airline hub airports such as Amsterdam, London, New York and Toronto, where tens of thousands of passengers are processed daily.
Are all the problems related to the pandemic?
When the global airline market collapsed in March 2020 with the introduction of travel restrictions and border closures, the commercial aviation industry took action to conserve cash and maintain a workforce. minimal work.
Hundreds of thousands of aviation workers have been laid off or laid off, with years of experience and technical expertise taken from the ranks of commercial aviation communities.
With the help of governments around the world, over US$200 billion in financial support has been provided by governments to help the commercial aviation industry maintain minimal service and avoid financial collapse.
When demand for air travel returned in March, the hiring spree began, but in a very different work environment. Those who left in 2020 had, for the most part, moved on to other career opportunities and no longer had much incentive to return to an industry characterized by lower pay and higher job risk. So staffing shortages have their origins in the pandemic and will continue to impact employment levels as travel returns.
How many more people are traveling these days compared to a year ago – and compared to pre-pandemic levels?
The International Air Transport Association publishes air travel statistics regarding the volume of air travel in various global markets. He noted that there is a significant difference in the volume of air travel, compared to 2021 and pre-pandemic levels.
The air travel market that has seen the strongest rebound is domestic North America – April 2022 travel is up more than 280% from April 2021 traffic levels, but remains slightly lower by more than 30% to April 2019 levels.
In China’s domestic market, continued pandemic-related travel restrictions and occasional city closures caused traffic levels to drop nearly 80% in April 2022, compared to April 2021 and 2019.
What can be done to avoid delays?
There are a number of perspectives that can be applied to a resolution of the current level of delays.
European authorities have announced specific flight reductions, while the US government is threatening to impose flight reductions to minimize flight cancellations.
The Canadian government hosted a meeting with major aviation organizations in Canada to discuss a concerted and effective resolution and Air Canada announced measures it intended to implement to reduce congestion at Toronto Pearson Airports and Trudeau of Montreal.
Canadian government officials also announced plans to hire nearly 2,000 additional security and border control officers to deal with specific congestion issues. Labor groups are uncertain whether congestion problems will be solved by such actions.
The main problem is the volume of air travelers drawn into the airport environment by the volume of flights operated by the airlines. Airlines have decided to increase their capacity to meet the growing demand for air transport, but the airport infrastructure is not equipped to handle such volumes.
While such enthusiasm from the airline industry is commendable at a time when adequate and experienced staff are available at airports, this is not the case now – and will not be for the foreseeable future.
How long will this last?
The summer travel season is in full swing in the northern hemisphere. Additional air capacity and increased demand for air services by a travel-starved population will continue at least until September.
Unless planned actions by U.S., European and Canadian carriers result in a reduction in peak aircraft movement loads at major air hubs, primarily in North America and Western Europe, congestion and delays will continue. – and could get worse.
Relief will most likely come in the fall, as demand for air travel is reduced with the arrival of the school season. Staffing will also reach the required levels by the fall, with the arrival of normal commercial air operations conditions.
Other issues that could reduce demand include higher airfares due to inflation and higher oil prices, which may impact the survival of some airlines.
What advice would you give to air travelers over the next few months?
Airport authorities have provided advice to travelers on how best to prepare for summer travel, including advice on how to avoid delays at security checks.
In this summer of disruption to come, I would recommend that travelers approach their air travel with patience, ensure they are well rested before leaving for the airport, and remember that airline staff live also stressful moments during his day.
A smile, a thank you and, above all, a caring attitude towards fellow travelers and staff are in order. Air travel experience will improve!