Stansted Airport: New regulations could avoid summer flight cancellation chaos

New regulations could help airlines prevent last-minute flight cancellations during the summer peak. The regulations, which were laid out before Parliament, would allow a one-off ‘amnesty’ on airport slot rules, meaning airlines could plan ahead and deliver their summer scheduled.

The Department for Transport says this ‘exceptional measure’ will help the industry while it attempts to recruit more staff. The ‘slots’ are the airport version of parking spaces, designed to manage capacity.

It gives a plane permission to use the full range of airport facilities, such as the runway, terminal and gates. This helps operate the air service at a specific date and time.

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Considered highly valuable, airlines must use slots a certain amount of times each season in order to keep hold of them. But many parts of the industry have quarreled to recruit enough staff in time to fly the number of flights they planned for.

The government is now offering a short windows for airlines to hand back these slots for the rest of the summer season, if they are not confident they can operate them. This will help passengers find alternative arrangements ahead of time, rather than face the kind of last-minute cancellations seen over the Easter and half-term holidays.

The government claims this idea ‘takes advantage of our new freedom’ to set our own slots after leaving the EU. And means the airline industry could develop a ‘deliverable’ summer schedule.

Transport Secretary and Herts MP Grant Shapps said: “The British people have made huge sacrifices over the pandemic and, for many, this will be well-deserved time away that they haven’t had in years. That’s why it’s crucial they don’t face disappointing last-minute cancellations and chaos at airports when the system can’t deliver possible.”

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “This is a hugely challenging time for our recovering aviation industry, but we cannot have a situation where passengers arrive at the airport just to have their flight canceled or face long delays. Today’s announcement follows the discussions that my officials. and I have been having with airports and airlines to understand where we can help them and ensure that they can run realistic schedules and make this summer a great success for the British public.”

Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Providing passengers with certainty this summer is vital and this intervention will help to relieve the pressures we see being experienced by the aviation industry and its customers. Short-term measures are welcomed, but a continued focus on the unplanned and inevitably operational challenges is crucial for consumer confidence this summer.”

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