UK says it will work with aviation industry to solve travel chaos

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Sunday the government would work hard with the aviation industry to avoid a repeat of the chaos at airports last week as passengers faced long delays and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Airports across Europe have struggled to cope with a post-pandemic rebound in demand, but UK airports have been particularly hard hit by major disruptions over the past week. Schools were on a half-term break and the country also had a long bank holiday weekend to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.

Shapps, who said earlier this week that airlines should stop selling tickets for flights they couldn’t operate, said the industry needed to address the issue.

“The industry itself has to solve it,” he told BBC TV. “Government doesn’t run airports, it doesn’t run airlines. Industry has to.”

Airlines had hoped for a bumper summer for passengers after two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

But they have struggled to recruit staff after the turmoil of the pandemic and complain that it is taking longer to recruit new staff and vet them for security clearance.

Shapps said staff cuts during the pandemic had gone too far.

“We will work very hard with the industry…to make sure we don’t see a repeat of these scenes,” he said.

A change in the law facilitates relations with the administration needed for security clearance, he said, adding that he did not see the need to bring in the army to help speed up checks. of security.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Frances Kerry)