Cancellations hit airline recovery infographic
Graphic shows global air passenger travel and airlines forced to make the most cancellations.


Cancellations plague airline recovery

By Duncan Mil

August 3, 2022 - A rebound in bookings as pandemic travel restrictions ease has overwhelmed airlines that laid off tens of thousands of pilots, flight crew, baggage handlers and security staff.

Passengers flying with Virgin Australia are experiencing some of the most significant disruptions. The Brisbane-based airline cancelled almost 2,200 flights in the three months to July 26, according to data from analytics company Cirium. Virgin Australia scrubbed 5.9 per cent of its schedule, compared with 1.4 per cent in the same period in 2019.

KLM, the Dutch flag carrier, axed 5.8 per cent of flights citing various reasons, including a shortage of airport security staff. “We apologise to our affected passengers,” the airline said in a statement.

Lufthansa said it’s cancelling almost 3,000 flights over the summer -- 3.1 per cent -- but is trying to avoid axing flights on a day-to-day basis. “The aim is to offer a stable flight schedule,” the airline said.

The rebound in bookings as Covid-19 travel restrictions ease has overwhelmed even the most prominent names in aviation. British Airways cancelled 17,600 flights for the peak summer season from June to October -- taking 2.8 million seats out of the market. As well as grounding flights, BA is also closing off the back rows of seats so they can reduce the number of flight attendants.

The latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) data show that the recovery in air travel has accelerated into the busy Northern Hemisphere summer travel season.

Total traffic in May 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was up 83.1% compared to May 2021, driven mainly by the strong recovery in international traffic. Global traffic is now at 68.7% of pre-crisis levels, IATA reported.

PUBLISHED: 03/08/2022; STORY: Graphic News