AER Lingus will tell a Dáil committee today that it is performing better than almost any airline in Europe on holiday getaways.
And it says its readiness for flight resumption this summer “was not matched by airports and ground handlers where there was a failure.”
The airline is claiming to have operated “one of the most robust schedules of any European network carrier.”
Chief executive Lynne Embleton says Aer Lingus “planned to operate 8,353 flights in June and we got away all but 223”.
But Ms Embleton will argue that the cancellation rate is still only 1.8pc — a fraction of the airline’s continental competitors.
She points out that Aer Lingus had far fewer cancellations in June than for example larger European carriers like EasyJet (14pc), KLM (11pc), Lufthansa (10pc) and Air France (7pc).
“While Aer Lingus has had some cancellations, we had a flight completion rate of almost 100pc in May and 98pc in June. The vast majority of our customers and their baggage were successfully delivered,” she will tell the Dáil transport committee today.
“Aer Lingus apologises to any customer who has had a less than satisfactory experience and we wish to assure them that we are doing everything possible to resolve issues, Ms Embleton says.
“We are incredibly frustrated with the operational disruptions this summer and our staff are doing a remarkable job in difficult circumstances.”
She says Aer Lingus has made every effort to return to pre-pandemic travel schedules.
“Even post the Omicron wave, we reiterated our intention that the summer 2022 peak would be approximately 90pc of our 2019 flying.
“We planned for — and were prepared for — the return in passenger demand. We built in appropriate buffers to deal with a reasonable level of additional disruption. We recruited staff on a timely basis.”
Passenger numbers in June were 81pc of 2019 levels while staffing was at 91pc.
“Our preparedness was however not matched by airports and ground handlers where there was a failure to adequately resource for summer 2022 operations,” Ms Embleton argues.
“If every airport and handling agent was as prepared as Aer Lingus we would not be facing the scale of challenges we currently face across our network.”
Advice to arrive at the airport 2.5 hours before departure for short-haul and 3.5 hours for a long-haul (with an extra hour if checking-in a bag) “remains problematic” because early passengers are “competing” with those for later flights, she says.
“This causes challenges for both airlines and passengers in terms of bag-drop and check-in.”
Further improvements to ‘airport resourcing issues’ is needed so that service standards are acceptable for customers and airlines.
But Aer Lingus is also being hit by onward connection cancellations at Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow, in particular, she says, where there are also baggage system failures and security problems.
Industrial action is causing disruption at many airports in Europe, such as Paris, Bordeaux, Lyons, and Brussels, and with French and Italian Air Traffic Control
“The reality is that the operational challenges make it impossible for Aer Lingus to deliver the experience that we would like for some of our customers,” Ms Embleton says.