Gatwick bosses are to cap the number of planes that use the airport in July and August to avoid a repeat of the “cancellation chaos” that ruined the trips of thousands of holidaymakers over the Jubilee weekend.
Schedules will be trimmed to manageable levels that should prevent “on the day” cancellations at the airport over the summer peak.
July daily departures and arrivals will be limited to 825 rising to 850 in August. Previously Gatwick was planning to handle up to 900 flights on the busiest August days.
The decision comes after a review found that continuing “severe” staff shortages were likely to cause further major waves of flight cancellations over the summer. Passengers already booked flights being trimmed from the July and August schedules are expected to be found alternative departures well before they are due to travel.
Gatwick said the decision was taken after “a significant and rapid upturn in air traffic levels at Gatwick that - during a busy but challenging Jubilee holiday week - saw around 800 flights use the runway on average each day.”
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick prepared well for the restart of international travel by successfully reopening our South Terminal and we have now successfully recruited 400 new colleagues to help us process passengers quickly through security this summer. We are also working closely with our airlines to avoid disruption to passengers this summer, and while more newly recruited staff will start work in coming weeks, we know it will be a busy summer.
“However, it is clear that during the Jubilee week a number of companies operating at the airport struggled in particular, because of staff shortages. By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers – and also our airlines – to better match their flying programmes with their available resources.
“As has already been the case, the vast majority of flights over the summer will operate as normal, and the steps taken today mean that our passengers can expect a more reliable and better standard of service, while also improving conditions for staff working at the airport.”