HomeBusinessBritish Airways Slashes More Than 10,000 Flights Amid Industry Staffing Shortages

British Airways Slashes More Than 10,000 Flights Amid Industry Staffing Shortages


British Airways

ICAGY 1.20%

is scrapping another 10,300 flights from its summer schedule as airlines contend with a resurgence in travel demand that has overwhelmed operators.

The airline’s cancellations have been mounting, starting with an initial 8,000 return flights scrapped at the start of the summer season. On Tuesday British Airways said it was canceling more than 1,000 more. Including the 10,300 announced on Wednesday, the carrier has now reduced its flying schedule by about 30,000 flights, representing some 13% of its originally planned capacity.

The cuts add to wide-ranging problems to air travel across Europe, which has been buffeted harder by the high-demand summer season than the U.S. Airlines and airports had planned to add capacity, but many have struggled with staff shortages as they try to hire back workers let go or furloughed during the long pandemic flying hibernation.

Many European airports, including Frankfurt Airport in Germany, have been flooded with travelers, straining some airlines.


Alex Kraus/Bloomberg News

Big airports such as London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol have asked airlines to curtail traffic as they cope with a flood of passengers they haven’t been able to accommodate. Other problems have exacerbated the disruption. A baggage-handling glitch stranded luggage for days at Heathrow Airport last month; Scandinavia’s biggest airline is suffering a pilots strike that has grounded 50% of traffic during strike days and forced it to seek bankruptcy protection.

“The whole aviation industry continues to face significant challenges and we’re completely focused on building resilience into our operation,” British Airways, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said in a statement. “While taking further action is not where we wanted to be, it’s the right thing to do.”

Airlines and airports world-wide have been battling to recruit enough employees, with companies clamoring for hires to fill positions from security guards, to check-in and baggage handling staff. The fallout is particularly acute in Europe where passengers, many flying for the first time since the pandemic, have faced long waits at airports, regular flight delays, lost baggage and last-minute cancellations.

Other airlines, including

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

DLAKY -2.43%


Air France-KLM Group

AFLYY -2.06%

and discount carrier


ESYJY 0.23%

PLC also taken have similar moves to trim schedules in a bid to prevent overwhelming airport workers. Companies have been on recruitment drives but have complained of tight labor markets in the U.S., across Europe, Canada and Australia.  

BA said the capacity reduction followed a move by the British government to ease takeoff slot rules that require airlines to operate a minimum threshold of flights to hold on to lucrative departure times. The decision to relax requirements was designed to encourage airlines to cancel flights to help ease airport congestion.

The airline separately on Wednesday appointed

René de Groot,

chief operating officer of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, to take over the same role at British Airways from Oct. 1, according to a letter from Chief Executive

Sean Doyle

to staff reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“As you can imagine, René is very familiar with the issues that we’ve been grappling with,” Mr. Doyle said in the letter. Mr. De Groot joined KLM in 1990 and helped navigate KLM through the Covid-19 collapse in air travel and has been battling with similar disruption at its main hub at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

BA’s current COO, Jason Mahoney, will shift to the role of chief technical officer. The CEO first outlined the changes to the position in April this year.

It’s looking like a chaotic and expensive travel season. WSJ travel columnist Dawn Gilbertson shares advice on how to save time at airport security, rebook flights faster and find the best prices for airfares and gas. Illustration: Adele Morgan

The Tough Summer Travel Season

Write to Benjamin Katz at [email protected]

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Appeared in the July 7, 2022, print edition as ‘British Airways Cuts 10,300 Flights.’


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