Hundreds of thousands of British Airways passengers are set to see their travel plans up again after the airline announced it would cancel more than 10,000 flights until the end of October.
The flag carrier’s drastic action came amid more votes by rail unions to strike at operators including LNER, potentially adding to summer transport disruption.
BA said its move was designed to “protect holiday flights”, after the chaos witnessed over Easter and half-term breaks due to a lack of staff at airlines and airports.
The airline will be scrapping an average of around 100 flights a day as it continues to struggle to deliver its schedule, with labor shortages and threatened strikes at its main Heathrow hub.
BA said that all the affected flights in the latest round of cancellations would be short-haul, where there are more multiple daily departures on major city routes.
The move follows a similar number of pre-emptive cancellations made in early May for the entire summer season, and comes on top of a relatively small number, around 650, axed from the July schedules last week.
In a statement, the airline said that the whole aviation industry “continues to face significant challenges, and we’re completely focused on building resilience into our operation to give customers the certainty they deserve”.
The latest trimming of the schedules, which has taken out almost one in seven of BA flights originally on sale, has been enabled by the rec “slot amnesty”, announced last month.
That has allowed BA and others to reduce their operations this year without forfeiting the right to valuable landing slots at Heathrow and other busy airports, which normally have a “use it or lose it” rule.
BA added: “The government recently decided to give the whole industry slot alleviation to minimize potential disruption this summer. While taking further action is not where we wanted to be, it’s the right thing to do for our customers and our colleagues.
“This new flexibility means that we can further reduce our schedule and consolidate some of our quieter services so that we can protect as many of our holiday flights as possible.”
The airline said most flights were unaffected and the majority of customers will get away as planned, but added: “We don’t underestimate the impact this will have and we’re doing everything we can to get their travel plans back on track. We’re in touch to apologize and offer rebooking options for new flights with us or another airline as soon as possible or issue a full refund. ”
Meanwhile, hundreds more staff at three train operating companies have voted for industrial action, potentially escalating the impact of rail strikes this summer.
Members of the TSSA union at LNER, the long-distance East Coast operator, and Essex commuter service c2c have voted to go on strike, while those at Northern have voted for action short of a strike. The ballot results follow similar votes for strikes at CrossCountry and East Midlands on Tuesday, and Avanti last week.
The union said it would not immediately call dates for industrial action on Wednesday but would consider next steps with workplace representatives at each operator. It has previously suggested action could be timed to affect the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham at the end of the month.
TSSA’s members range across various roles for train companies, including station and ticket office, customer services, train control and management.
The union’s membership at Network Rail are largely in the managerial grades who worked as contingency staff when signallers in the RMT union went on strike last month, allowing a limited number of trains to run on major lines. A coordinated walkout could bring services to a complete halt. The result of the TSSA strike ballot at Network Rail is due on Monday.
The Aslef union, representing train drivers, will also announce the results of votes at nine train operating companies the same day; while the RMT union, representing 40,000 rail workers across 13 train operators and Network Rail, resumes talks to settle its dispute on Monday.