Passengers ‘need instant action’ to fix airports chaos

The “blame game” over flight disruption ahead of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday is “no help” to passengers, a UK consumer group has warned, while Dublin Airport has come in for more criticism over the weekend chaos there.

Trade unions and the Labour Party have accused the government of failing to provide enough support to the UK aviation sector, which is facing staff shortages.

Thousands of employees were laid off during the coronavirus pandemic as restrictions meant many people did not want to travel overseas.

The government insists the aviation industry is “responsible for making sure they have enough staff”.

People at Dublin Airport where bosses were told to come up with solutions to resolve the lengthy delays faced by passengers by Tuesday morning. Picture date: Tuesday May 31, 2022.

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: “The blame game over staff shortages and flight cancellations is no help at all to passengers, who need instant action to bring an end to the airport chaos that is causing so much misery and leaving many people out of pocket, with little hope of getting all their money back.

“The government and regulators must take their share of responsibility for creating a situation where airlines feel empowered to treat passengers poorly and ignore their legal obligations to put passengers on alternative flights to their destinations, with other carriers if necessary.

“Enforcing this rule would help thousands of passengers immediately.”

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said the regulator understands the impact of disruption on customers, which is “exactly why there are rules in place to protect consumers in these circumstances”.

He went on: “We have guidance on cancellations and flight disruption published on our website for consumers, and continue to engage with airlines and airports to remind them of their responsibilities and make sure passenger rights are upheld.”

Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said in a statement that the UK’s aviation sector has only had “a matter of weeks” to recover after being “grounded for almost two years”.

Meanwhile, speaking in the Dail yesterday, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) had “grossly misjudged” the staff required to deal with tens of thousands of people travelling through the airport this summer.

“The government’s failure to plan for the recovery of Ireland’s tourism sector has come home to roost in a very catastrophic fashion,” she said, raising issues with delays in passport applications, the high cost of hotel rooms, and long queues at Dublin Airport at the weekend.

The DAA said in a statement that it had sought to reassure ministers yesterday about their plan to increase the number of security lanes open at peak times.