After significant disruption to flights over the May half-term holiday, Gatwick Airport announced it is limiting the number of daily flights in July and August.
The airport said it has introduced reduced flight numbers to help passengers “experience a more reliable and better standard of service” after a review of its operations.
While Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland Kaye, said passengers will not face major disruptions, problems with staff numbers have caused severe delays at airports across the UK.
Mr Kaye said that it could take almost 18 months for the travel industry to get back to pre-pandemic levels but in the meantime, passengers face uncertainty over air travel.
According to data from the Civil Aviation Authority, almost 7,000 flights have been cancelled between January and April 2022.
In the period, a total of 426,092 flights were scheduled across all UK airports but 6,777 (1.59%) were cancelled.
EasyJet, TUI, Ryanair and Wizz Air have all cancelled flights in recent weeks.
What are your rights if your flight is cancelled?
Your flight is covered by UK law if it departs from a UK airport, arrives at a UK airport on a UK or EU airline, or arrives at an EU airport on a UK airline.
Under UK law, if your flight is cancelled the airline must either give you a refund or book you on an alternative flight – either with them or a rival airline.
It is up to you whether you still want to travel at that time – or reschedule your holiday for a later date.
Some airlines are just offering refunds, but you are entitled to choose a new flight if you wish.
If another airline is flying “significantly sooner” than yours is able to offer, you may have the right to be booked onto a rival flight, but this has to be negotiated with the company.
On last-minute cancellations, Naveen Dittakavi, founder and chief executive of Next Vacay, said: “If you’re already at the airport once the flight is cancelled, the best thing you can do is stay calm – you are protected against many things that might go wrong.
“Try calling the airline helpline rather than waiting to speak directly with the airport staff. The helpline is often more flexible and may provide you with an e-credit or voucher, or flexibility to change your travel dates quickly.”
What are the airline’s policies?
As well as being covered under UK aviation law, each airline has its own cancellation policy for customers.
EasyJet allows customers to either switch to another flight for free, choose a voucher for the full value of the booking or request a refund.
Ryanair passengers can either claim a full refund or change to an alternative flight, while TUI passengers with cancelled flights should receive a full refund within 14 days – and you may also be entitled to compensation.
British Airways passengers are offered a full refund, while Wizzair allows passengers to request a refund or rebook onto the next available flight.
If you have booked through a tour operator or travel agent they will have their own policies.
Can you claim compensation?
If your flight is cancelled within 14 days of travel – and you can prove it was the airline’s fault – you are entitled to compensation.
Extreme weather, airport and air traffic control staff strikes, and other “extraordinary circumstances” mean the airline can get out of paying, but staff shortages, increased demand and IT issues mean you are likely to be entitled to compensation.
If your flight is cancelled within seven days of travel
If you were on a short-haul flight of under 1,500km and your new flight arrives two hours or later at the final destination you are entitled to £220.
For cancelled medium-haul flights between 1,500km and 3,500km, which result in a new flight landing three hours or later than planned, you are entitled to £250.
If your long-haul flight of more than 3,500km is cancelled and your new flight lands less than four hours later than originally planned, you can claim £260.
Cancelled long-haul flights that result in a new flight landing more than four hours later at your final destination entitle you to £520.
If your flight is cancelled between seven and 14 days before travel
For short-haul flights that are less than 1,500km, if the new flight lands more than two hours later than planned you can claim £220.
If your short-haul flight is cancelled and the new flight lands less than two hours later than planned, you get £110.
Cancelled medium-haul flights that are between 1,500km and 3,500km will entitle you to £350 compensation if the new flight takes off more than two hours later or arrives three or more hours later than the original one.
If the new flight takes off before your original one or arrives less than three hours later than planned, you can still claim £175.
For long-haul flights of more than 3,500km you can claim £520 if you arrive four hours or later than planned or £260 if the new flight takes off less than an hour before the original one or lands less than four hours later than planned.
What if your flight is delayed?
Passengers do not receive anything if they are delayed by less than two hours.
For delays of two hours or more, the airline is obliged to give you free food and drink at the airport.
If you are rebooked for the next day they are obliged to pay for nearby hotel accommodation, as well as transport there – or to return home if you can travel there – and back to the airport again.