Gatwick Airport set to cancel one in 10 summer flights to avoid further chaos

Jun 17, 2022

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Planning to fly in or out of London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW) this summer? Then you might want to keep a close eye on your booking after the U.K’s second busiest airport announced a new cap on flights during the peak season.

Eager to avoid a repeat of the snaking queues and last-minute cancellations that accompanied the recent Easter and Jubilee break, Gatwick is cutting the number of daily flights to 825 in July and 850 in August (normally the number is over 900) to ensure fliers “experience a more reliable and better standard of service” during the school holidays.

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This may end up equating to roughly one axed flight for every ten during peak times — no small figure. However, according to Stewart Wingate, the airport’s chief executive, it’ll ensure passengers avoid plenty of disappointment in the long run.

Gatwick Airport in South England. (Photo by nik-wheeler/Getty Images)

Don’t expect to get a ping on your phone from your chosen airline just yet mind. EasyJet, which is based at the Sussex airport and is sure to be more affected than most carriers, has said it still needs to “review the details” before presumably deciding which routes to axe.

Related: Worse still to come? Airlines urged to cancel flights now to avoid travel chaos

“By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers — and also our airlines — to better match their flying programmes with their available resources,” he said.

“We expect to be able to re-accommodate the majority of customers should their flight be affected by the cap,” added a spokesperson for the budget giant. “We recognise the need for Gatwick Airport to do this — so all airlines can provide reliable services for their customers.”

It’s probably no coincidence that Gatwick’s announcement of a cull happens just days after the Civil Aviation Authority and U.K. government sent a joint letter to airline and airport bosses calling for firms to axe services now rather than later. Laying out a five-point plan, the regulator took particular umbrage at the amount of passengers who had encountered same-day cancellations due to overambitious yet understaffed airlines.

Related: Considering a U.K. staycation? Why you should probably book it now

Gatwick has also revealed it has taken on as many as 400 new staff in the hopes of coping with increased passenger numbers during peak months.

Gatwick’s boss, Wingate, has admitted that understaffing and an inability to fill vacancies fast enough was the reasons why firms inside Gatwick have struggled to cope with the recent swell of demand as travellers look to jet away for their first restriction-free trips break since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Earlier this week, one senior aviation source let slip to The Times that Gatwick was being hit by a “meltdown every night” due to understaffing in the air traffic control towers.

“Since the start of the summer we’ve seen repeated issues in terms of air traffic control restrictions coming into Gatwick,” they told the newspaper. “The airport is putting restrictions on movements per hour, below its declared capacity, because of a shortage of air traffic controllers in the approach control function”.

In terms of safety alone, this move from Gatwick to curb further issues can only be a good thing, even if means many of us rebooking our flights in the meantime.

For now, if you’ve booked on a Gatwick service over summer, keep calm. There’s a good chance your flight might not be affected. Keep tabs on your chosen airline’s website, plan for an alternative route just in case, and arm yourself with our guide to dealing with delays and axed flights in case the worst does happen.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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