Consumer group hits out at ‘blame game’ as travel chaos continues

Trade unions and the Labour Party accused the Government of failing to provide enough support to the aviation sector, which is facing staff shortages.

31 May 2022

The “blame game” over flight disruption ahead of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday is “no help” to passengers, a consumer group has warned.

Trade unions and the Labour Party accused the Government of failing to provide enough support to the aviation sector, which is facing staff shortages.

Thousands of employees were laid off during the coronavirus pandemic as restrictions meant many people did not want to travel overseas.

The Government insists the aviation industry is “responsible for making sure they have enough staff”.

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: “The blame game over staff shortages and flight cancellations is no help at all to passengers, who need instant action to bring an end to the airport chaos that is causing so much misery and leaving many people out of pocket, with little hope of getting all their money back.

“The Government and regulators must take their share of responsibility for creating a situation where airlines feel empowered to treat passengers poorly and ignore their legal obligations to put passengers on alternative flights to their destinations, with other carriers if necessary.

“Enforcing this rule would help thousands of passengers immediately.”

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said the regulator understands the impact of disruption on customers, which is “exactly why there are rules in place to protect consumers in these circumstances”.

He went on: “We have guidance on cancellations and flight disruption published on our website for consumers, and continue to engage with airlines and airports to remind them of their responsibilities and make sure passenger rights are upheld.”

Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said in a statement that the UK’s aviation sector has only had “a matter of weeks” to recover after being “grounded for almost two years”.

It continued: “”Despite this, and without the ability to know when restrictions would be completely removed or predict how much flying would be possible over the summer, the vast majority of the many tens of thousands of UK-departing flights a week will be operating as scheduled.

“The focus now should be on our customers, with airports, airlines and Government working together in the best interests of Britons to ensure they get away over the summer.”

All remaining coronavirus restrictions for people entering the UK were lifted on March 18.

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