Brits face summer travel chaos again as holiday flights spike and air traffic control overstretched

3 July 2023, 09:52 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 09:54

Holidaymakers are facing chaos this summer again
Holidaymakers are facing chaos this summer again. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

British people are facing "challenging" summer holiday trips this year, with chaos expected because of a spike in flights amid the war in Ukraine.

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Last year was also difficult for holidaymakers, with cancelled flights and huge delays dampening the summer mood for many.

This year provides a fresh challenge - air traffic control is expected to become overloaded at key locations for flights to holiday hotspots, according to the air traffic management body for Europe.

It comes as about 33,000 flights are expected to take off between July and mid-August, the peak holiday season. This will rise to 34,000 on Fridays.

That's a 7% increase on last year, according to Eurocontrol.

Read more: Brits face summer holiday chaos as passport workers set to walk out for weeks

Read more: Summer holiday warning to Brits: 'Today's airport chaos nothing compared to what's coming'

Brits are facing travel chaos again
Brits are facing travel chaos again. Picture: Getty

Raúl Medina, the group's director-general, said: "This summer in Europe is challenging as we have less available airspace because of the war in Ukraine and the military needs...

"We need everyone to play their part.

"Airports need to be well staffed, it is vital [air traffic services] provide enough capacity and airlines stick to their schedules."

But Mr Medina said last year's delays had put the aviation industry in a better position to handle this year's difficulties.

Read more: British holidaymakers face Easter travel chaos with mass flight cancellations amid strikes at Heathrow and in France

Air traffic control may have a lot on their plate this summer
Air traffic control may have a lot on their plate this summer. Picture: Getty

He said that airlines and airports were "clearly in a better situation than last year" because "many of the causes of last year’s delays have been rectified."

“When we are asked if aviation is ready to cope with this increase of traffic, our answer is yes,” Mr Medina said.

Eurocontrol said "high overloads" of air traffic would be seen on most days in tourist hotspots including Reims and Marseilles in France, Athens, Budapest, London, Barcelona, Brussels, Nicosia, Warsaw and Zagreb .

"Overloads" can result in delays and aircraft being forced to fly longer routes to avoid busy areas.

Brits are facing travel chaos again this summer
Brits are facing travel chaos again this summer. Picture: Getty

It comes after masses of British Airways customers lost out on their late May bank holiday getaways and thousands of pounds amid travel chaos caused by technical difficulties.

Roughly 16,000 passengers were affected by the cancellations at BA, with more than 150 flights impacted.

Antony Knights, who was supposed to be flying to Berlin for a weekend away with his wife, told LBC he was forced to cancel his entire weekend amounting to £1,800 in total.

Responding to the flurry of complaints, a British Airways spokesman said: "While the vast majority of our flights continue to operate today, we have cancelled some of our short-haul flights from Heathrow due to the knock-on effect of a technical issue that we experienced yesterday.

"The airline apologised on Thursday, referencing "technical problems" as the reason for the cancellations.