​Gatwick to restrict number of flights to limit disruption
June 20, 2022
London Gatwick airport plans to limit passenger capacity growth through July and August as it seeks to minimise disruption from staff shortages through the recovery. Following a review of its operations, the airport will put in place "a gradually increasing capacity level" that is aligned with the ability of airlines and ground handlers to deliver their promised services. This will cap flights during the peak summer period at 825 per day during July, rising to 850 in August, "so that passengers experience a more reliable and better standard of service". The airport had originally planned to operate up to 900 daily flights on some peak-season days. Gatwick's move follows an intervention from the UK government, which on 15 June instructed airlines to reassess their schedules to ensure they were deliverable. Resurgent passenger numbers post-pandemic, combined with staff shortages, have led to widespread cancellations and delays at UK airports. Gatwick has been hit particularly hard. "The airport review found that a number of companies based at Gatwick are, and will continue to, operate with a severe lack of staff resources over the summer holiday period," the airport says. "If not addressed, this issue would see airport passengers continuing to experience an unreliable and potentially poor standard of service, including more queues, delays and last-minute cancellations." By gradually increasing the maximum number of flights over time, Gatwick aims to help airlines and ground-handling companies improve the service they provide by reducing the number of flights they need to manage. In particular, it believes this will benefit ground-handling companies with responsibility for managing check-in areas, turning aircraft round on the airfield, and loading and delivering baggage. Chief executive Stewart Wingate acknowledges that over the jubilee weekend "a number of companies operating at the airport struggled in particular, because of staff shortages". He adds: "By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers – and also our airlines – to better match their flying programmes with their available resources." Through late May and early June around 800 flights per day utilised Gatwick's runway. Over 10 million passengers used the airport in the first six months of 2022.

​Strike threats spread at Ryanair
June 17, 2022
The prospect of a summer of strikes at Ryanair has ratcheted up further as unions in Italy pledge to back their Spanish counterparts in action later this month, to be joined by labour groups in Portugal, France and Belgium. Italian unions UIL Trasporti and FILT-CGIL say cabin crew and pilots will walk out for 24h on 25 June at Ryanair, Malta Air and CrewLink. Malta Air is part of Ryanair Group, while CrewLink is its recruitment and training agency. The protest over improved pay and conditions "will also affect Spain, Portugal, France and Belgium on the same day", add the unions, which describe the 25 June protest as "part of a co-ordinated mobilisation at the European level". Ryanair argues that unions pushing for strike action are not supported by the company's crews and says they are not recognised by the airline. "These same unions held a failed strike attempt on 8 June at our Italian bases. However, zero Ryanair crew participated in that failed strike," the airline contends. It adds that the company's crews in Italy are covered by collective labour agreements signed with three other unions. In recent days, trade unions SITCPLA and USO, representing Spanish cabin crews, have announced plans for six days of industrial action against Ryanair in late June and early July after negotiations on a collective labour agreement broke down. Staff across the low-cost carrier's 10 bases in Spain will stage 24h walkouts on 24, 25, 26 and 30 June and on 1 and 2 July, according to USO. SITCPLA and USO added that five other unions in Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal had on 19 May signed an agreement that they would "not hesitate to launch a Europe-wide strike action this summer" if negotiations with Ryanair broke down. Portuguese union SNPVAC has scheduled cabin-crew strikes on 24, 25 and 26 June, according to a Publico report and a posting on the labour group's Facebook account. Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that Ryanair strikes in France led to cancellations on 12 and 13 June.

Qatar Airways returns to full-year profitability
June 17, 2022
Qatar Airways made an operating profit of QR10.8 billion ($3 billion) during the fiscal year ended 31 March, reversing a loss of QR1.05 billion the previous year. Revenue increased 78% to QR52.1 billion, a figure 2% higher than that for the pre-Covid financial year 2019-20, the Middle Eastern carrier notes. Net profit reached QR5.6 billion, rebounding from a loss of QR15 billion a year earlier. "These record earnings are the result of decisions made during the pandemic to expand the Qatar Airways' passenger and cargo networks, with a more accurate forecast of the global market recovery, building further customer and trade loyalty and product excellence combined with strong cost control," says the Oneworld member. It carried 18.5 million passengers during the 12-month period, a year-on-year increase of 218%. The airline's network grew to more than 140 destinations, opening new routes including Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Lusaka in Zambia, Harare in Zimbabwe, Almaty in Kazakhstan, and Kano and Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Additionally, Qatar Airways resumed flights to key markets across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. At 31 March, the group's cash and cash equivalents stood at QR39.9 billion. It ended the year with 257 aircraft in its fleet, comprising of 205 passenger aircraft, 30 freighters and 22 executive jets. "This year Qatar Airways Group celebrates a quarter of a century of history since its relaunch, whilst maintaining strong performance and growing profitability," states chief executive Akbar Al Baker. "Our strategic investments in a varied fleet of modern, fuel-efficient aircraft has helped us overcome the significant challenges related to capacity constraints while balancing commercial needs as swiftly as possible."


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