Will this day in August be the busiest day yet for travel in 2022?
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According to new research, Friday 12 August is currently set to be the busiest travel day of 2022.
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More airline seats are available on that second Friday in August than for any other day this year, travel-data cruncher OAG has revealed.
John Grant, the company’s chief analyst, has calculated that 16.1 million seats are due to fly around the world on that day.
According to Grant’s findings, the U.K. appears to be the country experiencing the greatest capacity explosion on flights, with an almost 700% increase in seat availability compared to last year.
“Many country markets are reporting very large increases in capacity year-on-year,” he writes on his blog. “The UK continues to lead this particular list with nearly seven times more seats than last year whilst Canada, Italy and Germany are all close to three times busier, all of which places pressure on the aviation supply chain.”
As for the world’s top 20 airlines, the top two spots went to easyJet and Ryanair who have increased their operating capacity by 773.2% and 705.2% respectively compared to May last year (more than any other airline in the world), while British Airways’ was in third place, having grown by 507%.
Should you be worried if you’re travelling on this day?
While it’s news that may strike fear into the hearts of struggling airport chiefs across Britain there could still be hope for travellers as although a large number of seats will be traversing through the skies, many of the seats are likely to be left empty.
In fact, Grant believes that about one in five seats will be vacant, estimating that the overall number of humans flying around the world on 12 August will hover around the 13 million mark.
That said, this is still a very high number and already this year, many airports have struggled as record numbers of sun-starved holidaymakers scramble to get away for the first time without restrictions since the pandemic began.
The news agenda in past weeks has frequently seen reports of gargantuan queues snaking through terminals, into carparks and around buildings.
Earlier this week, passengers at Leeds-Bradford Airport described “total chaos”, hours-long queues and missed flights at the short-staffed airport.
Meanwhile, long queues have also been reported at Manchester Airport (though it’s worth noting that TPG recently managed to travel from Manchester without issues or delays).
Similar scenes have also been described at Birmingham Airport. “I feel mainly sorry for the workforce who are tremendously understaffed. They are bearing the brunt of disgruntled people,” Ben Leather told the BBC. “However, there were no doubt people around me who would have missed their flights.”
Why are airports struggling?
Airports have blamed a cross-industry staffing crisis for the problems, caused by a cataclysmic combination of staff illness and post-pandemic recruitment woes. A large part of the problem is that airports and airlines have struggled to lure back many of the staff they let go during the pandemic.
One trade union source recently told The Points Guy that many of these workers found jobs in other industries and were quickly seduced by the same or better wages for more sociable hours.
“Why would you leave a nice nine to five job in town for your old airport job, that pays the same and starts at 3am?” the source told us. “There needs to be a better incentive.”
Indeed, easyJet’s recruitment woes have grown so dire that the airline has removed the back row of seats on its A319 aircraft to allow it to operate the planes with three instead of four cabin crew.
Grant even highlighted easyJet’s seating purge as one reason why the 16.1 million will be slightly lower than previously thought. “In August that equates to around 60,000 fewer seats for sale and probably some higher selling fares on selected services to mitigate the lost seats,” he wrote.
These latest figures are further confirmation that travel is swiftly returning to almost pre-pandemic numbers and that will place additional strain on airports and airlines.
As TPG reported earlier this week 66% of Europe’s airports expect flight delays to increase well into summer but there’s reason to be optimistic. The fact so many flights are set to fly could indicate that airlines are focused on planning ahead for the summer boom and — hopefully — have plans in place to mitigate their current staffing issues.
One recent example of this is easyJet’s seat removal strategy to reduce the number of staff needed to service flights. BA has also cancelled numerous flights ahead of time that aren’t set to be flying at full capacity as a potential way of spreading their staff across in-demand flights. Sure, it’s not good news for those caught up in the cancellations but it could have a positive effect on other much busier flights and routes.
Regrowing airline and airport workforces won’t happen overnight and we can certainly expect more delays and cancellations but, whether we’re headed towards the levels of chaos we saw during the Easter break and bank holidays remains to be seen as carriers and airports close the gap on rehiring and new staff training.
Our advice? Hope for the best but plan for the worst: be prepared and organised, understand your delay and cancellation rights and have patience with your fellow passengers and airport staff who will doubtlessly be feeling the burden too.
Featured image courtesy of Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images.
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