This is not how they envisaged the recovery: travel agents and tour operators have had a difficult summer in airports, and complications to manage with their customers who are finally back. The waiting files are getting longer at the start of European airports – France is, for the time being, the least affected –, leading companies to cancel flights by the hundreds. Other cancellations are due to an overambitious flight program compared to the actual workforce of the carriers. Another schedule, that of strikes by airport staff or pilots, augurs well for an even stormier start to the summer.
In the mouths of organized travel specialists, surprise, dispute and indignation: how could the season for the normalization of air transport, after two years of health crisis due to Covid-19, have been so badly anticipated? “The problem is systemic, and the summer will be problematic, worries Eric Dresin, secretary general of ECTAA, the European association of travel agents and tour operators. There has been poor anticipation, and these problems will not find a solution in the short term. »
The recovery, much stronger than expected, and the liquidity crisis of the airlines can partly explain the situation, concedes Mr. Dresin. ECTAA asks that the latter take note of their inability to ensure all of their flights and clean up their summer programs as soon as possible in order to allow everyone to anticipate – what easyJet did on Monday June 20.
“An industry under pressure”
At the other end of the travel chain, tourism players fear for their relationships with customers. Paris is annoyed by the waiting files at the border police and denounces the bad image that the destination sends back. The spite is the same in Spain, which is suffering cancellations from British holidaymakers. In Sweden, the public operator Swedavia was summoned to explain itself to Parliament and lectured by the government for the chaos at Stockholm airport. The fear is that the entire sector will suffer from this situation, while everything has been done for decades to simplify air travel.
“This can have an impact on demand in the short and medium term, dreads Eric Dresin. We were already an industry under pressure for its climate impact. If we do not meet this challenge and, in addition, we do not offer a satisfactory experience to the customer, we put ourselves in difficulty. » Dutch tour operators are already reporting a drop in bookings since mid-May and customers keen to avoid Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
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