Aviation chiefs have been warned that they are risking their “reputation for years to come” but an aviation expert has hit back saying the government was warned they need more notice on lifting Covid restrictions to get more staff back.
Julian Knight, Tory chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, told the Evening Standard,the aviation sector risks “harming their industry’s reputation for years to come as well as destroying the holiday plans of thousands of Britons.”
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But one airport specialist hit back, he said, “It’s disappointing ministers are now looking to point fingers. Throughout the pandemic, industry warned we needed enough notice of restrictions being lifted to ramp staff back up.
“In the event, restrictions were lifted in February and March, leaving only a short time to get people recruited, security cleared and trained.”
Aviation expert Luke Farajallah from Specialist Aviation Services explained the issues, he told LBC radio today, “It’s about 20% of flights that are affected across the UK across all airlines and across all airports.”
He added, “The key for this, number one, is there was no playbook that says this is how you restart after a pandemic, everybody is doing their very best.
“Airlines are definitely caught up in a three-way problem.
“One is that a number of the people that they used to employ left the employ of the airlines and airports at the time of the pandemic.
“Number two, recruiting and rehiring them is going on furiously. I’m also very associated with the recruitment part of the industry, and that’s going on, it is unbelievably strong, the effort that’s going on there. Everybody’s leaning in to get people back into the industry.
“And the third point is that when you’ve got people, you’ve got to clear them, and there is a huge backlog of getting people security checked and all of the various special licences and special permissions they need to get into the environment that they need to work in which is of course very secure.
“Now you could argue of course that there is a particular problem this week and how does it come to be that flights are published, sold, passengers booked and then they’re cancelled almost on the day. And I think that’s the bit that has definitely gone wrong from a short-term planning perspective.
“These flights were made available six months ago, obviously with the best will in the world – the airlines want to fly, they don’t want to be flying people who are then going to be cancelled and claiming compensation.
“And therefore it doesn’t make any sense to say that the airlines have mismanaged this to that extent.”