BA and easyJet cancel more flights, adding to misery for travellers

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Holidaymakers and travellers are again facing disruption to their plans after the cancellation of more easyJet and British Airways flights as a result of staffing shortages caused by a soaring number of coronavirus cases.

BA cancelled 78 flights scheduled to take off from or land at Heathrow on Wednesday, while easyJet cancelled at least 30 flights scheduled to take off from or arrive at Gatwick. Some of the routes affected include journeys to Amsterdam, Kraków, Bologna and Berlin.

What is behind the disruption at UK airports?Read more

The latest cancellations mark another day of widespread disruption for airline passengers, many of whom are taking advantage of the lifting of travel restrictions to get away on Easter holidays.

More than 1,000 UK flights have been cancelled by airlines in recent days because of high levels of crew absences related to Covid-19.

Demand for foreign travel has soared after the easing of almost all Covid travel restrictions but it comes as high levels of Covid cases are exacerbating existing staff shortages caused by large numbers of aviation workers being laid off during the pandemic.

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EasyJet had previously said it expected to cancel hundreds more flights during the week because of staff absences. It said at the weekend it had tried to offset shortages by rostering standby crew but was forced to make fresh cancellations at short notice.

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Passengers whose flights have not been cancelled have faced long queues for check-in, security and baggage reclaim at several airports.

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Airports, airlines and much of the aviation industry dismissed or furloughed many workers when travel ground to a half during the pandemic. Trade unions have said the sector is struggling to attract new staff because of low levels of pay and poor conditions.

Queues have been particularly bad at Manchester airport, which appears to have been less prepared that some of its rivals for the return of more passengers.

Karen Smart, stepped down as managing director on Tuesday after she came in for criticism from passengers and airport staff after weeks of chaos, during which thousands of passengers missed their flights because of queues up to seven hours long.

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