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Passengers warned as air travel disruption to continue

Cancellations and schedule changes will affect flights as restrictions enforced by KLM and BA

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There have been long queues at departures in Dublin Airport. Photo: Gareth Chaney

There have been long queues at departures in Dublin Airport. Photo: Gareth Chaney

There have been long queues at departures in Dublin Airport. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Air travel disruption is set to continue into next month, with passengers advised that cancellations and schedule changes will impact flights through autumn and winter.

Irish passengers have been contacted in recent weeks about flight cancellations for next month, while some airlines have had to adjust schedules to cope with new restrictions in the sector.

Those working in the industry say they do not anticipate schedules returning to pre-pandemic levels until at least winter because of global disruption.

Much of the disruption is linked to airlines and airports struggling to return to full capacity after the pandemic. Staff shortages mean workforce numbers are still not back at normal levels.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 outbreaks, new staff recruitment and training and a huge demand for travel since pandemic restrictions were eased have contributed to airport delays, flight cancellations and issues with check-in and baggage handling.

Dutch carrier KLM contacted Irish passengers in recent weeks to warn them of flight cancellations next month, with travellers moved to alternative flights and given notice to adjust their plans if necessary.

Among the affected services are inbound and outbound Dublin-Amsterdam and Cork-Amsterdam flights.

Some Irish passengers affected by the changes were contacted before last Tuesday’s announcement that a daily passenger limit at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was being extended through to September and October.

This led to a small number of cancelled flights, with slight time changes made elsewhere on Dublin and Cork services to manage the restrictions.

Limits at Schiphol were first introduced last month over concerns it would struggle to cope with passenger numbers during busier periods.

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The airport is usually one of the busiest in Europe and is used by passengers making connections for long-haul flights.

While Irish airports have no such restrictions in place, there are knock-on consequences for services here because of the changes in Amsterdam.

KLM said it is not yet fully aware of how its services to and from Ireland will be impacted in the coming months.

“KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is doing its utmost to maintain stable operations, but we have faced some cancellations and have limited the amount of seats available due to the disruptions at Schiphol Airport,” a spokeswoman said.

“At this stage, the exact impact is not fully known yet for September and October. Nevertheless, KLM will aim to maintain solid operations throughout the year to ensure our customers can travel from Dublin and Cork via Schiphol to our worldwide network.”

Similar caps on passenger numbers were introduced at London Heathrow last month and will remain in place until September 11.

Aer Lingus said it plans to operate a full schedule, but “airports such as London Heathrow continue to mandate some cancellations”.

“Where such cancellations are mandated, we endeavour to advise and re-accommodate impacted customers as efficiently as possible,” an Aer Lingus spokeswoman said.

“Due to the large number of flights Aer Lingus operates to and from London Heathrow, most customers are usually re-accommodated on same-day services.”

The Heathrow limits meant British Airways last week temporarily halted ticket sales on short-haul operations there until tomorrow.

The airline said it took “pre-emptive action” to reduce its schedule this summer and “give customers certainty about their travel plans”.

“When Heathrow introduced its passenger cap, we took a small number of additional flights from our schedule. To continue to comply with the cap, we’ve been taking responsible action by limiting sales on all the available fares on some of our Heathrow services to ensure more seats are available to re-book customers,” a British Airways spokesman said.

“We’ll continue to manage bookings to be within the Heathrow-imposed cap so we can get our customers away as planned this summer.”

Many operators and airports have struggled to ramp up to full capacity after travel slowed to a trickle during 2020.

Figures working in the industry say many operators will only return to 2019 levels during this winter or next year.

Meanwhile, Ryanair, which does not fly from Heathrow, said it continues to operate at full capacity.

“Ryanair is fully crewed and operating a full schedule of 3,000 daily flights (almost 100,000 per month),” a spokeswoman said.

“Ryanair has had no cancellations to/from Dublin or Cork this summer due to staff shortages, unlike many other airlines who have failed to plan adequately for the return of travel post Covid.”



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