Easter holiday flight disruption may be easing – but what about the summer?

It’s ironic. Covid prevented us from travelling so airlines laid off staff. Now that we can fly, there aren’t enough staff – because they have come down with the virus.

Of course, that’s an oversimplistic summary of the situation, since the aviation industry would argue it has adjusted the size of its workforce to its current scale of operations and passenger demand.

But it does show, once again, the continued knock-on effects of the pandemic.

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I was going to say “as we emerge from”, but I think that’s still tempting fate.

Easyjet is now operating a revised schedule in an attempt to avert more short-notice cancellations. Picture: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

At the turn of the year, bus and train operators like ScotRail were forced to make large numbers of short-notice cancellations because of staff isolating due to Covid, which led to timetable cuts in an attempt to solve the problem.

The same now appears to be happening to airlines, just as they get busy during the Easter holidays, fuelled by travellers enjoying the least travel restrictions over that period for three years.

Travel firms and carriers tell me Scotland has been less affected than airports in England, with airlines like Easyjet – Scotland’s biggest – and British Airways focusing cancellations on routes with several flights a day to minimise disruption.

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While Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, which handle the lion’s share of the country’s flights, suffered some grounded flights last week, they reported none yesterday other than one internal service.

Much of Scotland has also benefited from the Easter school holidays starting a week earlier than in England, with families getting away before the problems kicked in.

Most Scottish pupils, other than those in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian, are due back in class on Easter Monday or the day after.

However, it does beg the question about the outlook for the summer, when the aviation industry’s oft-repeated prediction of “pent up demand” is expected to be realised, with Easyjet reporting higher bookings over the last six weeks than the same period in 2019.

Last year, the main risk holidaymakers took by booking flights abroad was catching Covid.

This summer, it could be their flight not getting off the ground – if the pandemic takes another turn for the worse.

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