Leave time for disruptions, says Europe airports chief

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe - including this weekend - are adding to the disruption. PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - Arrive early - that's the advice from the European airports chief to passengers faced with disruption this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

"The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems," Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: "The system still works.

"It's important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage."

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe - including this weekend - are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

"Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July," he said.

"I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

"But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned."

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face "the same difficulties and inflationary pressures" as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

"Staff and energy is 45 per cent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.