Airline industry chaos in Europe disrupts Prague Airport's operations

Hundreds of flights have been canceled and delayed daily at major European airport hubs over the past two weeks due to staff shortages.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 07.07.2022 13:41:00 (updated on 07.07.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

As the summer of chaos overwhelms European airports, some airlines are advising passengers not to fly this summer to avoid 'Airmageddon.' Airlines and airports are bracing for potential meltdown, and travellers are suffering the consequences of endless check-in lines, last-minute cancellations, lost luggage, hours-long delays, and shortage of staff to turn for help.

Among other contributing factors, the lifting of coronavirus travel restrictions across Europe has triggered a surge in demand as airlines, airports, and other travel-related companies struggle to staff their operations after laying off thousands of workers during the height of the pandemic with the industry practically ground to a halt over the last two years.

Russia's war in Ukraine is another key factor severely restricting available airspace across the continent. According to Lufthansa, the war is leading to massive bottlenecks in the skies and further flight delays.

The average delay at Prague airport is now 50 minutes, reports ČT24. However, there are more and more connections where you have to wait several hours, including connections to France, Spain, or the Netherlands. 

Due to the worldwide staffing shortage, it is estimated that air transport will not be fully functional and stable after the covid outage until the summer of next year. Passengers flying from the Czech capital can also have troubles.

"The biggest complications affect lines via Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris. These are probably the most complicated airports and the most frequently disrupted connections," estimates Jan Papež, vice-chairman of the Association of Travel Agencies. 

Passengers are entitled to compensation in some cases. Mostly it is refreshments or overnight accommodation; in some cases, it could be financial compensation is no exception.

Passengers' right to compensation

  • Passengers whose flight is delayed by several hours are entitled to reimbursement of accommodation in some cases. And they are also entitled to refreshments. These are mostly vouchers that can be used to buy food and drinks at the airport.
  • If the plane lands with a delay of more than three hours, there is also a right to financial compensation. The conditions have been set by the European Union and all carriers must comply with them.

At Copenhagen Airport, the long uncertainty caused by the SAS pilots' strike results in cancellations in almost two-thirds of the cases. The airline is offering customers free changes, but flights are already canceled or full for weeks in advance.

Complicating the situation for Scandinavian Airlines is that it has filed for creditor protection in the United States. Still, the company insists it will take care of clients. However, queues of many hours without certainty of departure are now common at several European airports.

Other European airports are no better. Lisbon cancels an average of thirty connections a day. Outages affect thousands of people, and a simple itinerary on paper turns into an adventure. "It was difficult in Brussels, it was not possible to fly away. So at two in the morning we took a bus to Paris and from there we flew to Lisbon," described one of the passengers.

Have you experienced air travel chaos this summer at Prague Airport?

Yes, I faced some of the problems mentioned in the article. 32 %
No, everything went smoothly. 43 %
I haven't yet travelled from Prague Airport this summer. 25 %
247 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open
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