‘Worst flight delays’ could last a year, Ryanair chief executive warns | Travel News | Travel

Eddie Wilson said the air traffic management delays, creating a chain of delays, are the “worst on record” despite a 15% drop in flights from pre-Covid figures. Airports failing to keep up with strong demand have already led British Airways to cut 27,900 flights this summer and suspend sales of short-haul flights at Heathrow until August 15. Meanwhile, easyJet has cut over 15,000 departures.

Mr Wilson said: ‘The underlying problem…is air traffic control [which] is the biggest delay for any country mile airline. There’s a chance this will continue into next summer unless they get their act together now.

In the week to July 31, data from air traffic body Eurocontrol showed there were an average of 30,718 flights a day in European airspace, with a combined delay total of 116 624 minutes a day, on average. Nearly 90% of the delays were recovered along the way.

Capacity or personnel issues were the cause of 51% of problems and weather conditions were a factor in 28% of problems.

Mr Wilson added: ‘The French upgraded their systems over the summer, which was not a good idea, and there is a German facility in Karlsruhe which is understaffed.

He said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the closure of swathes of airspace have “compressed enormously more traffic southward”, compounding the delays.

He also called for a recruitment drive and said the EU should adopt an American-style “one sky” airspace to cut costs, time and pollution.

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