Staffing problems force IAG to scale back summer short-haul schedule

©British Airways had to cut back on the number of short-haul flights owing to staffing problems

 IAG, parent company to BA, Vueling, Iberia and Aer Lingus, has decided to cut back on an anticipated summer ramp-up in short-haul flights owing to staffing problems. As a result of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus which has led to flight crew shortages, together with a general lack of ground staff, plus IT problems, multiple flights had already been cancelled during the first quarter of the year. This resulted in a first-quarter operating loss of €754 million, substantially missing average analyst forecasts of a €510 million loss, though the Group does expect to be operating profitably throughout the second quarter.

The International Air Transport Association said that airports were currently suffering from staffing shortages to meet the demand of growing passenger numbers as travel restrictions are being lifted. As a consequence of the current situation, IAG has chosen to amend its full-year group capacity guidance to 80% of 2019 levels from its February forecast of 85% which the Group’s CEO Luis Gallego feels would “give more stability for the summer”. He also pointed out that IAG was struggling to take on staff for what he referred to as “below the wing” roles, i.e., those involved in ground handling, etc., and that it was currently taking about 20% longer for new staff to get security clearance.

Beyond this, BA, the Group’s biggest source of revenue, has had to cut back on the number of short-haul flights in order to protect its successful long-haul routes. “Demand is recovering strongly in line with our previous expectations,” Gallego said, adding that business travel was coming back, led by Britain and the United States.

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