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Seems the mess at YYZ is not unique. 

Airport chaos: European travel runs into pandemic cutbacks

LONDON (AP) — The airport lines are long, and lost luggage is piling up. It’s going to be a chaotic summer for travelers in Europe.
Kelvin Chan And Mike Corder, The Associated Pressabout 3 hours ago
20220623040620-62b422d6c73af26b621e4ae2jpeg FILE - Travelers wait in long lines outside the terminal building to check in and board flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. After two years of pandemic restrictions, travel demand is back with a vengeance but airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis are struggling to keep up. With the busy summer tourism season underway in Europe, passengers are encountering chaotic scenes at airports, including lengthy delays, canceled flights and headaches over lost luggage. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

LONDON (AP) — The airport lines are long, and lost luggage is piling up. It’s going to be a chaotic summer for travelers in Europe.

Liz Morgan arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport 4 1/2 hours before her flight to Athens, finding the line for security snaking out of the terminal and into a big tent along a road before doubling back inside the main building.

“There’s elderly people in the queues, there’s kids, babies. No water, no nothing. No signage, no one helping, no toilets," said Morgan, who is from Australia and had tried to save time Monday by checking in online and taking only a carry-on bag.

People “couldn’t get to the toilet because if you go out of the queue, you lost your spot,” she said.

After two years of pandemic restrictions, travel demand has roared back, but airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis are struggling to keep up. With the busy summer tourism season underway in Europe, passengers are encountering chaotic scenes at airports, including lengthy delays, canceled flights and headaches over lost luggage.

Schiphol, the Netherlands' busiest airport, is trimming flights, saying there are thousands of airline seats per day above the capacity that security staff can handle. Dutch carrier KLM apologized for stranding passengers there this month. It could be months before Schiphol has enough staff to ease the pressure, Ben Smith, CEO of airline alliance Air France-KLM, said Thursday.

London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports are asking airlines to cap their flight numbers. Discount carrier easyJet is scrapping thousands of summer flights to avoid last-minute cancellations and in response to caps at Gatwick and Schiphol. North American airlines wrote to Ireland's transport chief demanding urgent action to tackle “significant delays” at Dublin's airport.

Nearly 2,000 flights from major continental European airports were canceled during one week this month, with Schiphol accounting for nearly 9%, according to data from aviation consultancy Cirium. A further 376 flights were canceled from U.K. airports, with Heathrow accounting for 28%, Cirium said.

It’s a similar story in the United States, where airlines canceled thousands of flights over two days last week because of bad weather just as crowds of summer tourists grow.

“In the vast majority of cases, people are traveling,” said Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of the Advantage Travel Group, which represents about 350 U.K. travel agents. But airports have staff shortages, and it's taking a lot longer to process security clearances for newly hired workers, she said.

“They’re all creating bottlenecks in the system," and it also means “when things go wrong, that they’re going drastically wrong," she said.

The Biden administration scrapping COVID-19 tests for people entering the U.S. is giving an extra boost to pent-up demand for transatlantic travel. Bue-Said said her group's agents reported a jump in U.S. bookings after the rule was dropped this month.

 

For American travelers to Europe, the dollar strengthening against the euro and the pound is also a factor, by making hotels and restaurants more affordable.

At Heathrow, a sea of unclaimed luggage blanketed the floor of a terminal last week. The airport blamed technical glitches with the baggage system and asked airlines to cut 10% of flights at two terminals Monday, affecting about 5,000 passengers.

"A number of passengers” may have traveled without their luggage, the airport said.

When cookbook writer Marlena Spieler flew back to London from Stockholm this month, it took her three hours to get through passport control.

Spieler, 73, spent at least another hour and a half trying to find her luggage in the baggage area, which “was a madhouse, with piles of suitcases everywhere.”

She almost gave up, before spotting her bag on a carousel. She's got another trip planned to Greece in a few weeks but is apprehensive about going to the airport again.

“Frankly, I am frightened for my well being. Am I strong enough to withstand this?" Spieler said by email.

In Sweden, lines for security at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport have been so long this summer that many passengers have been arriving more than five hours before boarding time. So many are showing up early that officials are turning away travelers arriving more than three hours before their flight to ease congestion.

Despite some improvements, the line to one of the checkpoints stretched more than 100 meters (328 feet) Monday.

Four young German women, nervous about missing their flight to Hamburg while waiting to check their bags, asked other passengers if they could skip to the front of the line. Once there, they bought fast-track passes to avoid the long security queue.

Lina Wiele, 19, said she hadn’t seen quite the same level of chaos at other airports, "not like that, I guess,” before rushing to the fast-track lane.

Thousands of pilots, cabin crew, baggage handlers and other aviation industry workers were laid off during the pandemic, and now there's not enough to cope with the travel rebound.

“Some airlines are struggling because I think they were hoping to recover staffing levels quicker than they’ve able to do,” said Willie Walsh, head of the International Air Transport Association.

The post-pandemic staff shortage is not unique to the airline industry, Walsh said at the airline trade group's annual meeting this week in Qatar.

“What makes it difficult for us is that many of the jobs cannot be operated remotely, so airlines have not been able to offer the same flexibility for their workforce as other companies,” he said. “Pilots have to be present to operate the aircraft, cabin crew have to be present, we have to have people loading bags and assisting passengers.”

Laid-off aviation workers “have found new jobs with higher wages, with more stable contracts,” said Joost van Doesburg of the FNV union, which represents most staff at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. “And now everybody wants to travel again,” but workers don't want airport jobs.

The CEO of budget airline Ryanair, Europe's biggest carrier, warned that flight delays and cancellations would continue “right throughout the summer." Passengers should expect a “less-than-satisfactory experience,” Michael O'Leary told Sky News.

Some European airports haven't seen big problems yet but are bracing. Prague’s Vaclav Havel international airport expects passenger numbers to swell next week and into July, "when we might experience a lack of staffers, especially at the security checks,” spokeswoman Klara Diviskova said.

The airport is still short "dozens of staffers" despite a recruitment drive, she said.

Labor strife also is causing problems.

In Belgium, Brussels Airlines said a three-day strike starting Thursday will force the cancellation of about 315 flights and affect some 40,000 passengers.

Two days of strikes hit Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport this month, one by security staff and another by airport personnel who say salaries aren't keeping pace with inflation. A quarter of flights were canceled the second day.

Some Air France pilots are threatening a strike Saturday, warning that crew fatigue is threatening flight security, though Smith, the airline CEO, said it's not expected to disrupt operations. Airport personnel vow another salary-related strike July 1.

Still, the airport problems are unlikely to put people off flying, said Jan Bezdek, spokesman for Czech travel agency CK Fischer, which has sold more holiday packages so far this year than before the pandemic.

“What we can see is that people can’t stand waiting to travel after the pandemic," Bezdek said. "Any problems at airports can hardly change that.”

___

Corder reported from The Hague. AP reporters Aleksandar Furtula in Amsterdam, Karel Janicek in Prague, Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Angela Charlton in Paris, Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and David Koenig in Dallas contributed.

Kelvin Chan And Mike Corder, The Associated Press

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Air France-KLM boss warns travelers: Go to the airport early

 
 
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Air France-KLM boss warns travelers: Go to the airport early
© Provided by The Canadian PressAir France-KLM boss warns travelers: Go to the airport early

PARIS (AP) — The chief of airline alliance Air France-KLM said Thursday that it will take weeks or months to get new security staff in place to lighten pressure on the Amsterdam airport, which has seen flight cancellations, damaging delays and big travel headaches as global air travel rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith told reporters that the company is seeking compensation for some of its losses, blaming the troubles at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on shortages of security and other ground personnel outside KLM’s control.

While the Dutch government faces pressure to find solutions, once security personnel are recruited, “it could take weeks or months to have them in a position" because of government requirements for security clearances, Smith said.

Airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the pandemic are struggling to keep up with soaring travel demand, and passengers are encountering chaotic scenes at airports around Europe and the U.S.

Smith downplayed concerns about an Air France pilots' strike scheduled for Saturday, saying only a small minority of pilots are expected to participate and he doesn't expect it to affect operations.

The main Paris airport, Charles de Gaulle, has not seen many travel disruptions like those in Amsterdam, London and some other hubs. Smith attributed that to Air France’s decision last year to hire hundreds of pilots, mechanics and cabin staff in anticipation of a surge in demand in this summer.

The airlines are still down staff: 7,500 people left Air France because of the pandemic travel crash, and KLM lost 3,000. While many airlines laid off staff, Air France-KLM says it only saw voluntary departures.

Related video: Airlines, Ottawa and unions blamed for travel delays (cbc.ca)

 
 
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But Smith said all of the airlines’ planes are operating, and the company foresees 85% to 90% of pre-pandemic flight activity this summer worldwide.

“We see a strong pent-up demand for leisure travel, people who haven’t been able to fly for two years," he said.

Despite concerns about rising COVID-19 cases and risks of a recession, he predicted high demand into the fall.

Soaring global fuel prices are sending plane ticket prices through the roof, but Smith said that isn’t stopping people from flying.

“The ability to pass on higher costs to customers is unbelievable,” particularly in first class and business class, he said. “Trying to get a seat out of New York is impossible.”

Still, he warned that because of high fuel costs and broader inflation, “We’re not going to see a bonanza year of profits. It’s still a long path” back to pre-pandemic operations.

The French and Dutch governments saved Air France and KLM from near collapse when the pandemic hit, with billions of euros in loans. Smith said the company hopes to pay off the Dutch aid in the coming months and 75% of the French aid by the end of this year.

He welcomed the return to travel freedoms but warned travelers: “Allow extra time to get into and out of airports — and book early. Flights are filling up.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Air France-KLM says staff shortage is due to voluntary departures, not layoffs.

 

Air France-KLM boss warns travelers: Go to the airport early - ABC News

 

 
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Government of Canada invests in projects to improve supply chain efficiency for Canadian airlines across the country

Transport Canada

TORONTO, June 29, 2022 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening Canada’s trade corridors, which support our supply chains, help grow our economy and ensure its recovery, while creating good, middle-class jobs.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced close to $105 million for three new projects with NAV CANADA under the National Trade Corridors Fund. These projects will help improve supply chain efficiency for Canadian airlines across the country.

The Government of Canada will contribute:

nav-canada-logo-e1587425795708.jpg?w=204
  • Up to $39.2 million to provide new technology to improve the reliability, safety, and performance of Canada’s air transportation system, especially in the event of extreme weather and in remote communities. NAV CANADA will contribute $59.7 million toward the project, for a total investment of $98.9 million.
  • Up to $34.5 million to implement technology to improve air traffic management. The proposed project would also allow for the implementation of drone traffic management services to monitor and control drone operations in Canada’s airspace. NAV CANADA will contribute $50.7 million toward the project, for a total investment of $85.2 million.
  • Up to $31.2 million to improve the technology and infrastructure at four major airports (Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport) to respond to increased air traffic demand. The project will reduce flying time, decrease aircraft fuel consumption, increase the movement of cargo, and provide more efficiencies to meet the growing demand at these airports. For this project, NAV CANADA will contribute $45.8 million, which represents a total investment of $77 million.

Through the National Trade Corridors Fund, the Government of Canada is investing in well-functioning trade corridors to help Canadians compete in key global markets, trade more efficiently with international partners, and to keep Canadian supply chains competitive and resilient. It represents a long-term commitment to work with stakeholders on strategic infrastructure projects to address transportation bottlenecks, vulnerabilities, and congestion along Canada’s trade corridors.

Quotes

“An efficient and reliable transportation network is key to Canada’s economic growth. Our government, through the National Trade Corridors Fund, is making investments that will support the flow of goods across Canada’s supply chains now and into the future. These three NAV CANADA projects will improve the efficiency and flow of air cargo in Canada by reducing bottlenecks at the major hubs which cause delays across the entire aviation network. A more efficient movement of goods is beneficial to Canada’s economy and to Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra  
Minister of Transport 

“We are very proud of the key role we play, in partnership with our industry partners, to keep Canada’s skies safe. These important investments will accelerate innovation and deliver significant safety, environmental and economic benefits through a seamless, space-enabled, digitally enhanced air navigation system to address future growth in air travel and provide greater value to Canadians.”

Raymond G. Bohn 
President and CEO, NAV CANADA 

Quick Facts

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CANADIAN AVIATION NEWS

CANADIAN AIRLINE AND INDUSTRY NEWS

Canada Jetlines has completed the Ground Evacuation Demonstration and Flight Attendant Group Line Indoctrination Flight

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June 27, 2022

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Canada Jetlines Operations Ltd. (NEO: CJET) (“Canada Jetlines”) the new, all-Canadian, leisure airline, is proud to announce that it has successfully completed the flight attendant group line indoctrination flight and the Transport Canada (“TC”) evacuation demonstration. Both events were conducted to the satisfaction of the criteria and TC inspectors monitoring the events.

“We are quickly approaching the end of the AOC process with Transport Canada. The final steps are an additional demonstration flight and Transport Canada administrative functions to be completed. We expect this process to be completed in the first half of July and be able to start flying shortly thereafter.”

“Both events are important milestones in the process of obtaining our Transport Canada Air Operator Certificate (AOC). I am very proud of the excellent work accomplished by our flight attendants under the leadership of Anup Anand and Michael Lewin” said Eddy Doyle CEO of Canada Jetlines. “We are quickly approaching the end of the AOC process with Transport Canada. The final steps are an additional demonstration flight and Transport Canada administrative functions to be completed. We expect this process to be completed in the first half of July and be able to start flying shortly thereafter.”

Visit www.jetlines.com to learn more, sign up for email updates, and follow on all social media platforms to join the Canada Jetlines family.

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1 hour ago, Kargokings said:

 Government of Canada invests in projects to improve supply chain efficiency for Canadian airlines across the country

   NAV CANADA will contribute $59.7 million toward the project, for a total investment of $98.9 million.
   NAV CANADA will contribute $50.7 million toward the project, for a total investment of $85.2 million.
   NAV CANADA will contribute $45.8 million, which represents a total investment of $77 million.

 I find myself asking why Navigation fees are so high here when nearly half of the money for these projects and others I guess are funded from the Federal Government.

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Airlines must cut flights to ease travel issues: Trudeau airport boss

Amid delays, cancelations, lineups and lost luggage, “it’s clear that we need to restore balance in the logistical chain."

Author of the article:
Frédéric Tomesco
Publishing date:
Jun 29, 2022  •  15 hours ago  •  5 minute read  •   Join the conversation

Montreal’s airport operator is urging airlines to cut flights and destinations this summer to cure the “unsustainable” travel headaches faced by passengers amid a bigger-than-expected surge in travel demand.

Most domestic flights to Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport were either delayed or cancelled from June 22 to 28, figures compiled by Fredericton-based analytics firm Data Wazo show. Twenty-five per cent of domestic flights were cancelled, while 43 per cent were delayed, the numbers show.

 

Trudeau is one of several airports in Canada and abroad that have been hit by flight delays, baggage mishaps and endless check-in and passport-control lineups amid a rapid ramp-up in flight capacity. In Canada, airlines have blamed the situation on a shortage of federal security and customs officers.

 

“There is too much supply,” Aéroports de Montréal chief executive officer Philippe Rainville said Wednesday in an interview ahead of the busy Canada Day weekend. “It’s clear that we need to restore balance in the logistical chain. That will happen either through a reduction in the number of frequencies or the temporary removal of certain destinations. It’s not a unique situation to Montreal.”

 

cGill University lecturer John Gradek says the problems affecting travellers are the responsibility of airlines as well as airport operators. Above, the scene at Trudeau airport on Wednesday. PHOTO BY DAVE SIDAWAY /Montreal Gazette

The problems affecting travellers in Canada and elsewhere are the responsibility of airlines as well as airport operators, according to Gradek.

 

“Yes, the airlines have super-saturated the airports, but an airport like Trudeau is also part of the problem in that it hasn’t made a statement to the airlines that it has a limited capacity,” he said. “Everybody is trying to catch up to the 2019 volumes, but they’re trying to do it independently of each other. Nobody is looking at it from an integrated perspective.

“Somebody has to make an edict to say: enough is enough. Let’s choke off the airport, get everybody back into a sense of control and then start to build up again based on the availability of resources. That’s where it gets tricky.”

 

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport — one of Europe’s busiest airfields — announced this month it would have to scrap up to 30 per cent of flights this summer due to staff shortages.

 

Rainville wouldn’t estimate how many flights will need to be removed at Trudeau airport, saying that decision belongs to the airlines. Cutting flights won’t come easily, the ADM CEO acknowledged.

 

“Bookings have been made, people have already bought their tickets, so it’s going to require a lot of dexterity,” he said. “It’s going to be a difficult situation, but we need to make a choice between two evils — either we continue to experience what we’re going through now, or there are people who need to find different vacation plans.”

Airlines “are listening,” Rainville insisted.

 

“People are looking for solutions because things are simply unsustainable,” he said. “We have to fix the problem in the next few weeks. August will be very busy.”eople are looking for solutions because things are simply unsustainable,” says Aéroports de Montréal chief executive officer Philippe Rainville. PHOTO BY DAVE SIDAWAY /Montreal Gazette

International passenger traffic in peak periods at Trudeau airport has already reached 100 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, far above expectations, Rainville said. Forecasts were calling for passenger volumes this summer to hit about 80 per cent of 2019 traffic levels.

 

“Things came back more quickly than we expected,” he said. “The labour shortage affected us. Did we forecast poorly? Yes. But everyone around the world is dealing with the same issue.”

 

The wave of delays and cancellations adds to an already long list of frustrations for passengers who have had to cope with lengthy delays for passport renewals and rising airline ticket prices.

Air Canada said Wednesday it recently “refined” its schedule to reduce peak times at the Toronto and Montreal airports by retiming and cancelling certain flights or reducing frequencies.

 

Canada’s biggest carrier has been “prudently restoring” its schedule as it recovers from the effects of COVID-19, and now operates about 1,000 flights a day, representing about 80 per cent of its June 2019 schedule. The “vast majority” of scheduled flights are successfully completed, the company said.

 

Employees laid off during the pandemic have been recalled, and additional workers hired, the company said. Air Canada has 32,000 employees, about 1,000 fewer than in 2019.

 

Montreal-based IATA, the International Air Transport Association, is “aware of the challenges being faced by passengers and airlines at the major airports in Canada,” spokesperson Markus Ruediger said Wednesday in an emailed response to questions. “We are also seeing similar issues in other parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe.”

Lineups at Trudeau airport on Wednesday. The wave of delays and cancellations adds to an already long list of frustrations for passengers who have had to cope with lengthy delays for passport renewals and rising airline ticket prices. PHOTO BY DAVE SIDAWAY /Montreal Gazette

IATA has asked authorities to boost staffing as soon as possible while lifting the remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions.

 

“One of the big lessons learnt from the pandemic is that we need to work in a collaborative manner across the value chain, including governments. Hence it will take a joint effort to improve the current situation,” Ruediger said.

 

In the meantime, Rainville is advising passengers to arrive at least three hours before their scheduled departure time and to show “a lot of patience.”

 

For some, like Montreal resident Jacques Bernier, patience means postponing a planned trip to Europe.

 

Bernier dropped by Trudeau airport Wednesday morning in the hope of recovering his bicycle and camping gear, which were still missing a day after he flew in from Winnipeg via Toronto. His Air Canada flight from Toronto to Montreal — which was scheduled to land here shortly after midnight Tuesday — was cancelled, and he had to wait several hours to board another flight home.

 

“My partner and I were supposed to make a cycling trip to Europe this summer, but we’ve decided to wait until next year to let the system cool down,” he said. “People have decided to travel in bigger numbers than what the airlines were expecting, and companies don’t have enough staff. If we have to go through Toronto again, we’ll never get to Europe.

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Air Canada to cancel dozens of daily flights this summer

Airline president blames 'unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system'

CBC News · Posted: Jun 29, 2022 8:37 PM ET | Last Updated: 2 hours ago

Air Canada will cut dozens of daily flights this summer as the airline grapples with a series of challenges amid soaring demand for travel.

The changes would see Air Canada reduce its schedule by 77 round trips — or 154 flights — on average, each day during the months of July and August.

"Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care," Michael Rousseau, the airline's president and CEO, said in a statement released Wednesday.

"The COVID‑19 pandemic brought the world air transport system to a halt in early 2020. Now, after more than two years, global travel is resurgent, and people are returning to flying at a rate never seen in our industry."

Rousseau said those factors are causing "unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system," leading to flight delays and crowded airport spaces.)

It's also spurring the airline to make "meaningful reductions" to its summer schedule "in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate," he said.

Far fewer round trips each day

Prior to these reductions, Air Canada was operating about 1,000 flights per day, said Peter Fitzpatrick, an airline spokesperson.

"Three routes will be temporarily suspended between Montreal and Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna and one from Toronto to Fort McMurray," Fitzpatrick said.

Most flights affected by the changes are out of its Toronto and Montreal hubs, he said.

  • "These will be mostly frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft, on transborder and domestic routes," he said.

But he said "international flights are unaffected, with a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times and even out the customer flow."

'Not an easy decision'

Rousseau, the airline president, said Air Canada did what it could to prepare for these challenges, but it has to adjust its operations to the current circumstances.

"This was not an easy decision, as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will have a negative impact on some customers," Rousseau said.

"But doing this in advance allows affected customers to take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than have their travel disrupted shortly before or during their journey, with few alternatives available."

Rousseau offered his "sincere apologies" to customers for any delays they have faced or will face.

"I also assure you that we very clearly see the challenges at hand, that we are taking action, and that we are confident we have the strategy to address them," he said. "This is our company's chief focus at every level." 

A majority of domestic flights have been delayed at some of the country's busiest airports in recent days, according to the analytics firm Data Wazo.

Data Wazo says 54 per cent of flights to six large airports — Montreal, Calgary, Toronto's Pearson and Billy Bishop airports, Ottawa and Halifax — were bumped off schedule in the seven days between June 22 and 28.

Some 38 per cent of the flights were delayed while 16 per cent were scrapped altogether.

Airlines and the federal government have been scrambling to respond to scenes of endless lines, flight disruptions and daily turmoil at airports — particularly at Pearson — a problem the aviation industry has blamed on a shortage of federal security and customs officers.

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