“Moving some of our passenger operations to other UK airports at such short notice is also not realistic,” the airline said. “Ensuring ground readiness to handle and turnaround a widebody long-haul aircraft with 500 passengers onboard is not as simple as finding a parking spot at a mall.”Source: BBC
It’s worth asking how come (European) airports were unprepared for this rebound. I’ve travelled quite a bit within Asia1 the past few months, and I fail to see any of the same problems Europe is facing.
It seems like the big airports are affected most (AMS, LHR, FRA, MUC), whereas regional airports have long queues but due to lower loads are not affected as much. But then again, information is not super transparent, and it’s hard to figure out how many flights are cancelled in Brussels or Copenhagen as opposed to Amsterdam.
And Iceland seems to have plenty of staff… 😉
Stockholm airport a couple of weeks ago was a disaster in terms of massive queues (the only reason it was smooth for us, was because we had priority lane and were lucky to be able to skip the hour-long queues).
We can’t blame the sudden opening/dropping of Covid regulations either, as Europe has been significantly more lax and easy going than most Asian countries that basically went from lockdown/full test regiment/quarantine to opening up in a matter of days or weeks.
One could also argue Asia does not have the same workers’ protection/unions/training/safety standards (which may be true in some cases, not sure about training for example) and generally salaries/costs are lower (i.e.: you could hire four for the price of one).
It’s also unfair to shove the costs back to the airlines (that need to rebook or refund passengers), while having to fly empty planes during Covid to retain their airport slots…
Note that most of the problems seem to affect departures (transit/arrivals are generally smooth).
Maybe having the entire ground-staff exist out of (underpaid) immigrations/interim/temp workers was not a sustainable model to start with, and that’s finally showing.
Do better, Europe.
1: Bali seems to be the exception: customs had super long queues, and their new visa regulations (i.e.: many people now need to buy a visa-on-arrival, when that wasn't needed before) added to confusion and people being sent back to buy their VoA.