Why Are Airlines Still Struggling To Cope With Soaring Demand?
One of the most immediate impacts of the pandemic was the mass cancellation of international trips. Millions of businesses had to cancel business trips, and millions of people had to postpone their long-awaited vacations. Even as the pandemic died down, restrictions still kept international travel to a minimum.
However, 2022 has seen international travel return in full force. Unfortunately, it turns out that airlines and airports were not ready for it. There have been mass flight cancellations, and many flights that have happened have been significantly delayed.
But we’re already at the start of September and things still aren’t back to normal. If you’re planning a trip, travel insurance has become crucial, as there is too high a chance you’ll have to change your plans. Why is this still happening?
Let’s take a look at the extent of the problem that remains, as well as the reasons behind it.
Air Travel Chaos Worldwide
How bad is the chaos? From May to Mid-August, twenty-five percent of flights into, out of, or within the US, UK and Europe were either delayed or cancelled. In the US, most carriers have lightened their schedules. Delta has been carrying out a hundred fewer flights per day. United Airlines is reducing its flight schedule. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have also had significant delays and cancellations.
Things are worse in the UK. Heathrow capped daily passengers at 100,000 during July, and have now extended the cap until late October, leaving many hoping to travel during peak season stranded.
Europe is in a somewhat better state, but countries are still struggling to get back to peak levels. This has been especially true during vacation season.
The chaos remains across most of the Western world and we can expect this to continue for some time. It’s impossible to pinpoint all of the reasons for this, but there are some significant factors.
The staff shortages seen in airports in the UK and the US provide an interesting case study. This is because the two countries are facing them for entirely different reasons.
In the UK, airlines and airports are struggling to find staff because of Brexit. Many workers who would have taken these jobs are no longer allowed to work in the UK without permits. There are not enough British citizens applying for these jobs to make up for those losses.
The US, of course, is not dealing with the fallout from Brexit. However, there have still been staff shortages in airports and beyond. Reasons for a lack of staff include companies not paying a liveable wage. Workers are no longer willing to take on exploitative positions.
It is also possible that the workforce has contracted due to COVID-19 deaths and chronic illness. Parents who would have been part of the workforce may also have left their jobs as they cannot afford to pay for childcare any longer.
Staff shortages are difficult to remedy without widespread change. That is unlikely to occur until peak season is well and truly over. As we fast approach that time, we can only hope air travel providers start making those changes.
Another factor that has contributed to the chaos is simply the high demand for international travel after an extended period of restrictions. People are finally trying to take those trips that were cancelled in 2020. They’ve been hoping to take advantage of the lack of restrictions.
Airlines and airports are in a tough spot because they have been working with limited capacity for so long. Suddenly, they are having to scale up their operations beyond pre-pandemic levels. Unfortunately, they haven’t handled the demand all that well.
Another interesting factor in the problems faced by American air travel providers is bad weather. Storms have recently grounded thousands of domestic flights in Texas. Other states have also been affected recently. With regards to international travel, storms are only worsening the problems caused by staff shortages and high demand.
Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
As with just about everything else in 2022, issues with international air travel have been impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Trips to and from Russia and Ukraine have been cancelled at short notice, with airlines losing revenue due to the conflict. Many tourists have had to change itineraries and choose different destinations because of it.
Airlines have also had to hike prices due to the increased cost of energy resources caused by sanctions on Russia. Flights booked before the conflict lost airlines a lot of money, making it harder to pour resources into fixing the problems. Paying workers more has not been a viable way to end the staffing shortage.
When Will The Chaos End?
The good news is that things seem to be getting better. Flight delays and cancellations are becoming less common in the US, UK, and Europe. With peak season coming to an end, air travel providers have the time to work on remedying all of the issues.
It remains to be seen just how much international travel will be impacted on a permanent scale, but hopefully we will be able to return to normal.