Travellers arrive for flights at O'Hare Airport in Chicago on Thursday. AAA projects about 42.3m Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, 3.4m by air. AFP
The technical glitches and strikes by airport staff across Europe are stirring concerns about a repeat of last summer's post-pandemic air travel chaos that unleashed delays, cancellations and mountains of lost luggage from London to Sweden to Amsterdam.
Most of the 42 affected flights in London were on short-haul routes to and from Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport. Computer issues on Thursday caused planes and crew to be out of position on Friday, which was expected to be the busiest day for UK air travel since before the coronavirus pandemic.
Other flights were delayed, with some passengers unable to check in online. Travel is expected to be especially busy over the next few days as a three-day weekend coincides with the start of a weeklong holiday for most schools in Britain.
"We’re aware of a technical issue, which we have been working hard to fix,” British Airways said on its website.
The industry is gearing up for a busy summer season and hoping to avoid a repeat of the disorder last year, when airports and airlines struggled to keep up with demand that came roaring back after pandemic restrictions eased.
"While some disruptions can be expected, there is a clear expectation that the ramping-up issues faced at some key hub airports in 2022 will have been resolved,” the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, said this month.
"To meet strong demand, airlines are planning schedules based on the capacity that airports, border control, ground handlers, and air navigation service providers have declared. Over the next months, all industry players now need to deliver,” the airline industry group said.
IATA warned that strikes, including by airport staff such as air traffic controllers, are "cause for concern,” particularly in places like France. Labor action by French workers battling the government over pension reforms has resulted in as many as 30% of flights canceled at Paris’ second busiest airport, Orly, on some days.
In Britain, Heathrow security guards launched a three-day strike Thursday over pay after walking off their jobs over busy periods earlier this year, including Easter.
The strikes have been an issue, but "mitigation measures that have been implemented has meant that in the vast majority of cases, people have been able to travel from the UK as expected, and we expect the same to be the case over the summer months,” said Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents about 350 UK travel agents.
"The industry is made of many moving parts and navigating some of the issues outside of our control at exceptionally busy periods does put increased pressure on the entire ecosystem,” she said.
A government body dealing with the pandemic said the monthlong travel restrictions would start from Saturday and aim to prevent the spread into the country of coronavirus strains from other countries which are believed to be more contagious.
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The latest phase of these repatriation flights, known as the "Vande Bharat Mission," began on March 1 and will last till March 28. Slightly more than 1,350 international flights are scheduled to be operated from 28 countries in this phase, enabling an estimated 260,000 Indians to travel home.
During his visit to the pioneering station, which was awarded a 6-star rating in the Global Star Rating System for Services, Sheikh Saif was briefed about its innovative and diverse services.
The sources indicated that the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) will be the headquarters and destination for new emerging companies in the technology and artificial intelligence sector, which are looking for new markets for them in the region, supported by the system of laws, legislation and facilities provided by the emirate to foreign investors.
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