The full list of TUI flights delayed or cancelled amid travel chaos
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And the sky-high prices are only going to get worse, a leading budget airline has warned. Wizz Air is predicting 10 percent rises due to the “perfect storm” of inflation, fuel costs and the surge in demand. Meanwhile, a strike by Italian aviation workers is causing a further headache for travellers – with dozens of flights cancelled yesterday, hitting British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and other operators.
One travel expert told the Daily Express the rocketing cost of foreign travel resembles the situation 50 years ago when high inflation in the 1970s put flying abroad out of reach of most household budgets.
They claim we are regularly seeing more than 20 percent higher prices in British Airways flights to destinations including Nice, France, and the Caribbean. Paul Charles, CEO of analysts The PC Agency, said: “You are seeing price rises feed through on some routes that were traditionally cheaper.
“A Gatwick to Nice mid-June return in economy is around £850 per person. Traditionally it was about £500. To the Caribbean you would pay around £650.
“Now in mid-June to go to Barbados it is £890. People are prepared to pay whatever it takes.
“This is not opportunism by airlines. They are behaving like other sectors in a high-inflation, high fuel-cost, high-demand world.”
BA stressed last night they had not stealthily increased ticket prices, but high demand for foreign travel has seen lower fares for popular destinations snapped up.
A spokesman said: “We offer a wide range of fares to give greater choice and advise to book as far in advance as possible in order to take advantage of our lowest prices. Like other airlines, our prices fluctuate based on levels of demand.”
Britons have been warned the chaotic scenes at UK airports could last another 18 months as the sector addresses a staffing crisis.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, claimed it will take “12 to 18 months for the aviation industry to fully recover capacity”. His warning comes with widespread flight cancellations, mountains of unclaimed luggage and holidaymakers forced to wait for hours in queues to check in.
Mr Holland-Kaye added: “What we saw over the past few weeks is that supply and demand were out of balance. We need to make sure we are planning much better.”
Figures released by Wizz Air showed a near tripling in passengers in the year to March 2022, from 10.2 million to 27.1 million, with revenue rising 125 percent. But boss Jozsef Varadi said although fares will rise, disruption may mean it makes a loss. He said: “Shortages of staff are impacting airlines and customers directly.”
Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons’ Transport Select Committee, said the industry had been hit by an accumulation of issues. The Tory MP said: “You’ve got the perfect storm where you haven’t got enough staff in a job market where people are already worried about the future of aviation because they’ve lost jobs and it’s been stop-start.”
One airport coffee shop worker told the Daily Express passengers concerned about missing flights were partially to blame for queues.
He said: “Passengers are being asked to arrive three hours before flights but are turning up much earlier, are unable to check in, which causes overcrowding. Then, when they can, there’s a mad rush and long queues.
“It used to be a little more staggered with people arriving at different times.”
The queues and overcrowding were described as “massive” and “shameful” at airports including Manchester and Gatwick yesterday morning.
And the misery was highlighted in a clip posted by passenger Paul Quinn at Manchester, showing a mountain of baggage falling off an overloaded conveyer belt. The Liverpudlian said the airport was “in disarray from start to finish”.
Meanwhile, Google data analysis revealed searches for “cancel my flight” soared by 163 percent in the fortnight from May 22 to June 4. The data from OurWovenJourney also showed that searches for “refund my flight” rocketed by 137 percent.
Comment by Paul Charles
A heady combination of factors means that flight prices for all of us are going to continue rising.
While the boss of Wizz Air has said the cost of tickets may go up by around 10 percent, some carriers are already increasing fares by over 20 percent.
The war in Ukraine has led to surging oil prices. Filling up an aircraft costs much more and so airlines are quick to pass on that to consumers. And costlier items such as sandwiches mean “frills” airlines are having to charge more per ticket to maintain service quality.
Crucially, staff costs are also rising. Airlines are under pressure to pay their pilots and cabin crew more as inflation affects wage packets.
Unions are flexing their muscles for pay claims in tune with 10 percent inflation.
Strike action is likely as airline leaders won’t be able to afford such pay demands.
No airline has made a profit for two years and carriers need to rebuild their balance sheets, so they need to protect their cash piles in the bank.
Airlines are also paying more for ground handlers. A shortage has led to cancellations. Without such staff, airlines are just flying metal in the sky.
I’d expect costs to keep rising for the next 12 months. But travel is often the last thing to be removed from our wish lists. While demand continues to rise, so will the cost of going away.
- Paul Charles in the CEO of The PC Agency
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