British Airways will trim its schedule over the next few weeks to avoid a repeat of last weeks operational meltdown in which thousands of passengers were made to abandon their luggage or wait on idled aircraft for hours at the airline’s flagship terminal at Heathrow Airport.
Chief executive Sean Doyle told employees that many customers were “rightly fed up” with BA’s performance over the last few weeks after the airline was hit with a major IT outage and staffing shortages.
Doyle also acknowledged that many employees were also fed up and that he was “frustrated” with the airline’s performance. The embattled CEO said most of the issues stemmed from the airline’s sudden ramp up after pandemic travel restrictions were lifted.
“While it doesn’t make what we’re experiencing any better, and it isn’t an excuse, there is no airline or airport in the UK that isn’t experiencing issues,” Doyle explained.
Doyle says British Airways needs to hire more staff after slashing its workforce by the thousands during the pandemic. Suggesting that the carrier can’t hire fast enough, Doyle explained that in the short term, BA would be forced to cut flights to avoid a repeat of last weeks meltdown.
Customers on axed flights are set to be contacted over the next few days and offered rebooking options.
Matters have been worse by limited space at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 where BA is currently sharing its home with Qatar Airways, China Southern, Iberia and American Airlines. One of Heathrow’s four terminals is still not open and the airport operator doesn’t plan to get T4 up and running until June at the earliest.
The last few weeks have seen BA suffer a series of embarrassing mishaps. In February, the airline suffered disruption from a late winter storm but efforts to reset the operation were dealt a fatal blow when an IT outage forced BA to cancel every short-haul flight for 24-hours.
The airline then announced plans to ditch its mandatory face mask policy but faced a customer backlash when managers suddenly reversed course at the last minute. Face masks are now still required on the majority of flights but have been rolled back on a few select routes.
Then, last weekend, a staff shortage meant customer bags weren’t offloaded from planes. After waiting for hours for their bags to be delivered, passengers were eventually told to leave the airport without their belongings.
Things may, however, get worse before they get better. “There is no doubt we have significant headwinds that we are facing into,” Doyle told employees before saying that the future looked a lot more positive.
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