The European Air Traffic Agency has warned that control centers are threatening to be overwhelmed by the huge volume of flights scheduled across the continent this summer. Reims in eastern France, Munich and Athens are the hardest hit, but much of Europe is operating close to capacity, Eurocontrol said.
However, Brexit is something of a red herring. Airlines have pleaded for a relaxation of immigration controls to allow them to parachute in personnel from Europe, a request Shapps has refused, but it shouldn’t require such drastic action in the first place.
Nor does it excuse the dismissive treatment of customers who had reservations taken that could not be honored and will likely be forced to wait months for refunds, if past form is anything to go by.
There’s a long history in the travel industry of downsizing far too deeply during downturns, then rushing to rehire those who were so easily laid off. You can understand if some of those laid off felt they wouldn’t come to the rescue this time around, especially given the arduous hours and poor wages of cabin crew and airport workers.
It’s hoped the spinoff will spark some soul-searching into how the staff are so easily sacrificed, but that’s doubtful. Mass layoffs have always been the airline industry’s first response to a major crisis, even since the oil shock of the 1970s. There is nothing to suggest that is about to change suddenly. Yet until he does, passengers will continue to pay a heavy price.