Italian strikes add to air travel chaos as Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways ground flights

EasyJet alone cancels 18 services to and from Italy

Airport queues could last into next summer if staffing issues aren’t fixed, says top industry body

Airline passengers face further widespread disruption on Wednesday with industrial action in Italy adding to the expected dozens of cancellations.

British Airways has grounded 122 short-haul domestic and European links from its main base at London Heathrow. Many were cancelled with several weeks’ notice, but some passengers to and from Milan were given less warning.

BA has also grounded one round trip to Milan Malpensa from both Gatwick and London City airports.

At London Gatwick, easyJet continues to cancel numerous flights at short notice. Wednesday’s cancellations began with links to the key Spanish airports of Alicante and Malaga.

Eighteen flights to and from Italy are grounded, with destinations including all three Milan airports, Rome, Venice and Pisa.

Links to Belfast City, Copenhagen, Dubrovnik, Nice and Toulouse are also cancelled by easyJet, giving a total so far of 34 to and from Gatwick – affecting more than 5,000 passengers.

From Luton, easyJet has grounded a single round-trip to Venice. It has also cancelled a Manchester-Jersey service.

Ryanair and Jet2, which have so far cancelled very few flights during the summer, have grounded round-trips from London Stansted: Ryanair to Genoa, Milan Bergamo and Verona, and Jet2 to Verona.

British Airways, easyJet and some leading airports are short of staff. But the health secretary, Sajid Javid, rejected the travel industry’s call for aviation workers to be added to the UK’s Shortage Occupations list.

He told BBC Today, “The government provided record amounts of support during the pandemic.

“We didn’t really see problems like this in other countries.

“Many of those countries also have low unemployment rates.

“It’s about time the industry took some more responsibility for sorting its own challenges out.

Tim Jeans, director of Newquay airport in Cornwall, told the programme that the aviation industry “should have planned better”.

He said: “The peak came back earlier than people anticipated.

“We had to resource our operations better than we did over Easter and the half-term break.

“Some but not all operators got caught out.”

But, he said, “Recruitment is taking place at pace.”

Martin Chalk, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) told BBC Today there was no overall shortage of flight deck crew, but that delays were arising from training.

“There are plenty of pilots available,” he said. “It isn’t a lack of pilots – it’s difficulties with the training system.”

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