Air Malta Executive Chairman David Curmi has reiterated the national carrier’s commitment to refrain from cancelling any of its summer flights – despite the chaos currently plaguing a significant number of European airports.
“Another week of major operational headwinds with London Heathrow informing us of their capacity capping requirements until 11th September. Due to the ongoing passenger congestion and severe queuing times at security, London Heathrow have advised Air Malta of our maximum permitted passengers to be carried on the KM103 evening departure for each date,” he wrote.
“There is no consistency to these parameters, and they vary by day. Equally, London Heathrow are not granting airlines any lead-in period to plan or prepare and are enforcing with immediate effect,” Mr Curmi continued.
Just last week, the national carrier revealed that it was forced to reschedule flights KM106 (Malta to London Heathrow) and KM107 (London Heathrow to Malta) on a select number of July and August dates due to terminal congestion issues in the UK.
This was far from the first set of Air Malta flights to be impacted by such issues, with journeys between Malta and Madrid (and vice versa) scheduled to take place on 20th July being impacted by hours-long delays.
“Our commercial and operations teams are actively working on a number of mitigation actions to ensure that none of our flights to London are cancelled and that we would not have to deny boarding to any of our booked passengers since we are currently booked at 95 per cent full for the months of July and August,” Mr Curmi noted.
In light of this the Chairman said that, on multiple dates, flights KM102 and KM103 have been re-timed “by approximately five-and-a-half hours.”
“As much as these short-notice changes are a major source of frustration for our customers, we are being given no choice by London Heathrow, who are being extremely rigid,” Mr Curmi said.
“Airlines have been instructed to strictly operate within the advised capacity restrictions and, if they are unable to meet those criteria, then they have been given the choice to either cancel the flight concerned or to try and re-time it to another time approved by London Heathrow,” he continued.
With airports all around the continent facing staffing shortages, winding queues, hours-long delays, and flight cancellations have become a very common occurrence for travellers this summer.
Transport Malta Director General for Civil Aviation Charles Pace recently spoke out, pinning the blame for Europe’s airport chaos on the late end of government-imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“The root cause [of the chaos] is that governments were much too late in calling an end to the restrictions. Airports, maybe understandably, did not recruit because they had no assurance that restrictions would be lifted. Trying to recruit and retrain people in the middle of a peak season was suicidal,” Mr Pace said.
Finishing off his message, the national carrier Chairman reiterated Air Malta’s commitment to refrain from cancelling flights.
“We very much regret the inconvenience caused to our customers by extraordinary circumstances totally beyond our control. We however remain resolved that, rather than cancelling flights, we continue to give our customers the confidence that they will travel, rather than leaving them stranded with no alternative travel options available,” he concluded.
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