We’re Not Going on a Summer Holiday

The headline news in the UK in the early part of this week is not our corrupt politicians attempting to cover up their abuses of power, or the murderous activities of Russians in Ukraine but the hundreds of people stranded at British airports due to the failings of the airline industry and the airport authorities. There is holiday misery for many people as flights are cancelled and airport security and processing queues were excessively long.

There are many ways of looking at this problem but the main reasons for this are the lack of staff employed by the airlines and the airport authorities and overselling seats on planes, which the airlines knew that they could not fulfill. Trying to offload the blame, the airlines and the airport authorities are trying to point the finger at government. Whilst the government is culpable for many failings during the Covid-19 crisis, they provided enough support in the form of bailouts and furlough money for this not to happen. Instead of taking the money for the furlough scheme, airlines and the airport authorities laid people off and squandered the rest of the support that was given.

When it became time for ensuring that staff were available for this week, the airlines and the airport authorities dragged their feet and did not get things moving early enough, given that staff have to have security checks on top of normal employment processes. There is also the post-pandemic trend for people to re-evaluate the need for certain types of employment, which means that other jobs have become more attractive to many of those who would normally do airline and airport jobs and the choice of jobs is greater for those wanting to work than before the pandemic. Couple this with a desire for many people to escape the UK on holiday or to escape the jubilee celebrations during half-term, then this week was always going to be a problem time.

The most vocal airline owners, trying to deflect the blame from their own greed, are, unsurprisingly, those who have a reputation for poor customer service, a lack of loyalty to their staff and a failure to ensure that they employ a reasonably paid workforce.

The elephant in the room that everyone is ignoring though, is the need to cut back on flights as part of battle against climate change. Whilst not as damaging in overall terms as animal agriculture or road traffic, it is one of the higher CO2 producers per person using it.