Two of Europe’s biggest airlines announced another round of cancellations, adding to the disruption turning the travel sector’s pandemic recovery summer into a nightmare.
The Dutch arm of Air France-KLM plans to cancel as many as 20 round-trip flights to European destinations every day through the end of August. Deutsche Lufthansa AG said it will cancel 770 flights in the coming week.
The European aviation industry has suffered unprecedented bottlenecks and long check-in lines at airports from London Heathrow to Brussels to Dusseldorf, Germany. The disruptions have been brought on by labor disputes, staffing shortages and cost cuts during the pandemic that are now coming back to haunt airlines, just as travel roars back for the busy summer period.
With flights grounded, baggage is piling up at some airports.
Three days of strikes last week at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport left tens of thousands of bags stranded at France’s biggest international hub. While handlers are sifting through the backlog, French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said Friday that thousands of remaining suitcases could take as long as a week to clear.
KLM’s measures are designed to “calm” operational stress on staff at the airport and within the airline, the carrier said in a statement Friday.
The Lufthansa cuts bring the total number of flights scrapped this summer to about 3,900, including previously announced reductions. A spokeswoman for the carrier said the new cancellations, largely affecting evening flights, was aimed at preventing disruption of other connections.
Both carriers are trying to ease red-hot demand for tickets in order to alleviate pressure on operations. KLM will “strongly restrict” remaining ticket sales on its Cityhopper and European routes to allow customers whose flights were canceled to rebook, the carrier said. Lufthansa is selling its remaining tickets for July for a minimum of 500 euros ($506.50) per leg, meaning even an economy-class round-trip from Frankfurt to Berlin is priced at 1,000 euros.
KLM’s move comes on top of an already significant cap in ticket sales by the airline, after the Schiphol hub took drastic measures to limit capacity this summer due to a shortage of security staff.
A shortage of baggage handlers has left thousands of suitcases stranded at the Dutch airport, a spokesperson said.
—With assistance from Cagan Koc.
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