The head of airline and tour operator Jet2 has criticised UK airports for being “woefully ill-prepared and poorly resourced” for the holiday season, blaming them for the “inexcusable” travel chaos that has engulfed the sector in recent months.
Philip Meeson, Jet2’s executive chair, said airport operators’ “often atrocious customer service”, combined with long queues at security and a lack of baggage handling staff, had contributed to “a very much poorer experience at the start and finish of our customers’ holidays than they were entitled to expect”.
He added: “This difficult return to normal operations has occurred simply because of the lack of planning, preparedness and unwillingness to invest by many airports and associated suppliers.”
Jet2, which operates out of 10 airports across the UK, stressed that it had invested “well ahead” of summer to ensure it had “adequate resources to be able to operate efficiently”.
The air travel industry has been blighted by a wave of delays and flight cancellations in recent months, due in large part to staffing shortages among ground handlers and air traffic controllers. Strike action among some check-in staff and workers who refuel planes is expected to exacerbate the problem.
Jet2 said on Thursday that revenues in the year to March 31 were £1.23bn, more than three-fold higher than the year before when the airline’s fleet was largely grounded because of travel restrictions imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The Aim-listed group reported an operating loss of £324mn, down from £336mn the previous year. A total of 4.85mn passengers flew with Jet2, compared with 1.32mn the year before.
However, the company warned that its performance for the next financial year would depend on “how quickly the broader aviation sector returns to some level of stability, as well as strength of bookings for the remainder of summer and the second half of the financial year”.
Steve Heapy, Jet2’s chief executive, said he did not expect the operational problems to “continue to the same extent into winter and summer 2023”, stressing that the airline had not cancelled any flights because of staffing shortages. The company employs about 12,000 staff, up from 7,000 in September last year.
“I would hope that the vast majority of the operational issues we’re seeing this year will be resolved,” he added. “The companies on whom we rely are all furiously recruiting at the moment.”
The airline also warned that inflationary pressures and an uncertain economic outlook for UK consumers meant that “prices are likely to come under some pressure”.
Read the full article here