Air chaos until SPRING as British Airways scraps 1.8million seats

Air chaos until SPRING as British Airways scraps 1.8million seats

Buckle in because air chaos will now last until SPRING as British Airways scraps at least 1.8million more seats amid warnings of ‘stratospheric’ price hikes for passengers

  • British Airways pulls 1,258 Heathrow flights now and 10,000 more over winter 
  • Cuts could push up already high ticket prices for winter travellers in Europe  
  • Travel consultant suggests BA could move to lower seats and higher fares model
  • Carriers like easyJet and Wizz Air also collectively axed thousands of flights

British Airways yesterday axed more than 1.8million seats until spring next year in the latest blow to holidaymakers. 

The flagship carrier is pulling more than 11,250 flights to and from Heathrow between now and late March. 

It threatens to push up already high ticket prices across the industry for those hoping to go on October half-term, winter sun and skiing holidays. 

British Airways yesterday axed more than 1.8million seats until spring next year, the bulk being to European hotspots less popular during the winter

Experts warned the spike in prices, due to continuing high demand but less seats amid spiralling inflation, could be ‘stratospheric’.

BA said it was pulling 1,258 flights to and from Heathrow until the end of October to comply with a daily cap of 100,000 departing passengers which the airport last week extended into autumn. 

But the airline is axing an additional 10,000 flights between the end of October and late March, the bulk being to European hotspots less popular during the winter, such as Paris, Dublin and Madrid. 

BA said it was pulling 1,258 flights to and from Heathrow until the end of October to comply with a daily cap of 100,000 departing passengers, sparking fears of further chaos

Long-haul flights, which are more lucrative for the airline, will largely be protected along with short-haul services to skiing destinations such as Switzerland, France and Austria. 

But several hundred flights to long-haul destinations, mostly in the Far East where strict Covid travel restrictions still apply, are also among those axed. 

Some transatlantic flights may also be affected. 

It means between 1.8million and nearly 2million seats are being removed from BA’s schedule. 

The beleaguered airline axed around 30,000 flights over the summer amid a staff shortages crisis which continues to grip the industry. 

Other carriers, such as easyJet and Wizz Air, have also collectively axed tens of thousands of flights. 

BA’s move will help stabilise the carrier’s operations, reducing the risk of last-minute disruption from overbooking. 

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘You’re seeing a heady combination of high inflation and high demand, amid lower seats post-pandemic. 

Passengers across the country have suffered as staffing issues causes huge queues at travel hubs. Pictured: Crowds at Manchester Airport

‘With inflation forecast to hit nearly 18 per cent next year, you’re going to see stratospheric price rises.’ 

He added: ‘If there’s good news in these cuts, it’s that passengers are being given more notice than the last-minute cancellations we saw earlier in the year. 

But it’s still incredibly frustrating that BA is in this situation and sad to see so many fewer flights post-pandemic than there were pre-pandemic.’ 

Mr Charles said the move suggests BA may be shifting its business model to running fewer flights, reducing its overheads but charging more for the seats it does offer. 

 A BA spokesman said it will be offering customers affected by the these changes an alternative flight or the option of a refund

He added: ‘Ironically, it knows that the more flights it cuts, the more profitable it can be.’ 

BA flights for October half-term are already much pricier than in school term time. 

The cheapest seat from London to Gran Canaria, a popular winter sun destination, on October 21 and 22 was £250 and £334 respectively last night. 

A week earlier it was £178 and £272. The jump for flights to Madeira for the same dates was from £143 to £217 and £244 to £349. 

Heathrow boss John HollandKaye has warned industry staff shortages could continue into next summer, meaning the airport’s passenger cap may need to remain in place until then. 

According to flight data analysts Cirium, BA was due to operate 120,637 flights between October 30 and March 25. 

It means yesterday’s cancellations account for around 8 per cent of flights scheduled. 

A BA spokesman said on Monday night: ‘We’ll be offering customers affected by any of these changes an alternative flight… or the option of a refund.’

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