Airports will experience less traffic congestion than 2022. But be ready for headaches - Reuters

17. Feb. (Reuters) Global airports anticipate smoother travel this summer, as staffing increases however, the escalating demand for passengers during peak times across Europe along with North America could still bring lengthy lines, baggage piles as well as delayed flight times, a trade group warned.

Airlines, airports and other the government have all been filling up to prevent crippling labour shortages that hampered capacity and caused travel headaches in the summer of last year.

The global demand for passengers is predicted to rise to pre-pandemic numbers on the majority of routes by 2023, adding the pressure on a stretched market.

“The season of summer is likely to be difficult at time especially for Europe, North America and certain parts of Southeast Asia as passenger loads are expected to rise and rise to levels in certain areas that are near or over 2019 levels,” said Thomas Romig vice president of safety security, operations and security at the trade group for airports ACI World.

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A majority of airport officials gathered at the Airports Council International meeting this week, discussing France’s Reunion Island. The island’s forecast for any disruptions during summer are likely to occur in peak traffic times rather than last throughout the whole season, Romig said.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and other airports may not have enough employees until June’s end Air France KLM (AIRF.PA) Chief Financial Officer Steven Zaat told reporters.

“Of course, we’re affected by the fact that we have labor shortages all over the country, including in the airfield … however, we can see that slowly operations are back to normal,” he said.

Also, strikes could affect air traffic operations over the coming months.

A strike lasting 24 hours at seven German airports was scheduled to affect more than 300,000 passengers on Friday, as unionised employees insisting on higher wages warned of the possibility of a”summer of “chaos” in the event that they were not able to meet their demands.

French Pension strikes in France have been going on over the past few weeks, and UK Border Force strikes are likely to cause disruption to airports in the days to come.

Cheap-cost carriers easyJet (EZJ.L), Ryanair (RYA.I) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) have posted strong financial performance at the beginning of 2023 on back of extremely strong forward bookings. Analysts say that customers are taking care to protect their holiday plans despite the rising cost of living and fears of recession.

Airports are already taking measures to prepare for the peak season of travel. This week Schiphol stated that they were looking at reducing the number passengers it will take during the May vacation time by about five percent.

In Canada the Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said on Friday that he’s making steps to prevent another summer of chaos at the country’s biggest airports, for instance the introduction of proposals this spring to enhance the air passenger right to privacy.

“The experiences that Canadians had last summer was very disappointing,” Alghabra told reporters in Montreal. “There are some flaws within the system that have to be taken care of.”

Officials from Canada’s biggest Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport was not immediately available to comment.

Montreal-Trudeau International Airport will be adding services to cut down on the lines in advance of the spring break. This includes enhancing an online booking system that allows travelers to set an exact time for passing through security checkpoints. the spokesperson for the airport authority Eric Forest.

The United States, Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) anticipate restoring their traffic to levels of 2019 this year. Southwest has been criticized for an operational breakdown in December, claimed at in a Senate hearing this month that the airline could continue to operate its flight schedules as published.

The reporting is done by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Joanna Plucinska in London; Editing by Jamie Freed, Shounak Dasgupta and Jonathan Oatis.

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