Luggage piles up as air crisis destroys trip


Thousands of passengers have canceled their flights as baggage disruptions wreak havoc at London’s Heathrow Airport.

About 30 flights were canceled Monday, leaving about 5,000 travelers stranded after airport management asked airlines to cut 10 percent of flights across two terminals.

It followed days of trouble in the baggage claim areas, with extraordinary images of baggage passing across the airport.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience experienced by passengers this weekend,” said an airport spokesman.

“The technical issues with baggage systems have led us to take the decision to request airlines operating in terminals two and three to consolidate their schedules on Monday, 20 June.

“This will allow us to minimize the ongoing impact, and we ask that all passengers contact their airline for the latest information.”

Airlines that canceled flights included Virgin Atlantic, Flybe, Air France, Air Canada, TAP Portugal, Loganair, British Airways, Delta, Brussels Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Aer Lingus, ITA Airlines, Eurowings Lufthansa, KLM, and Bulgaria Air.

Luggage piles up as air crisis destroys trip

Elsewhere, hundreds of passengers have reportedly waited up to three hours to collect their luggage after landing at Heathrow on Monday.

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According to some estimates, 15,000 passengers on about 90 flights were affected.

The chaos came as post-pandemic operations tested airlines and airports worldwide, including Australia.

Last week, Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport, said it would suspend flights during the peak season due to staff shortages.

Across the Channel, Amsterdam’s main airport, Schiphol, has also said it will limit passenger numbers in the summer, leading to a 16 percent drop in scheduled flights.

Earlier this month, there was chaos at Australia’s busiest airports as thousands took a flight for the Queen’s Day long weekend.

This followed long queues and long delays in the April school holidays.

Airports have warned that a repeat is likely in the upcoming July holidays.

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Sydney Airport and Melbourne Airport have stepped up their recruitment efforts before the school holidays, but analysts say it’s too late to make a difference.

Both airports have also announced job fairs, aiming to hire thousands of workers. Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said 15,000 jobs were lost during the pandemic, and 5,000 more are yet to be replaced – “although everyone started recruiting heavily when the borders seemed to open”.

“Our security contractor and ground handlers have been advertising jobs since December and have brought 500 employees on board since the beginning of the year, but they still have 1,200 positions to go, which is an incredible challenge in this market,” said Mr. Culbert.

A Melbourne Airport spokesman told news gear on Thursday that the airport is working to prevent a repeat of the Easter travel chaos.

But they admitted that baggage handling proved a persistent pain point as airlines struggled to attract enough staff with customers returning en masse and many employees stuck at home with COVID.

A Melbourne Airport spokesman said it is working to prevent repeat Easter travel chaos. But they admitted that baggage handling remained a persistent pain point.

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