Only one flight cancelled at Stansted during busy half-term week
- Credit: Will Durrant
Bosses at Stansted said the airport operated a full flight schedule during the busy half-term and Queen's Jubilee week, despite widespread air travel disruption elsewhere in the country.
The Essex hub saw around 900,000 passengers pass through the airport during last week, with 80,000 people per day over the four-day Jubilee weekend.
Stansted saw only one cancellation - a TUI flight to Turkey on May 29 - despite reports of 'travel chaos' across other UK airports.
EasyJet axed at least 35 flights on Tuesday, with Gatwick the worst affected, and Hungarian carrier Wizz Air scrapped at least seven flights due to serve UK airports.
British Airways also cancelled 124 Heathrow flights, although the airline said affected passengers were given advance notice.
Staff shortages are one of the main reasons behind the disruption, after airlines cut around 30,000 jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A spokesman for Stansted advised passengers to plan ahead and arrive at the right time for flights.
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He said: "Advice for passengers is to arrive at the terminal at the time indicated by their airline, not hours in advance or after the time the airline opens check-in.
"We also suggest that passengers plan ahead before they leave home. This includes preparing correctly for security and checking for any road or rail disruption affecting their journey to the airport."
Meanwhile, Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents independent travel agents, said its members are receiving "a significant number of calls" from concerned customers.
She said: "About 30% of all calls that they're receiving now are from customers that are reading the headlines, have bookings for July and August in the school holidays, and they are worried."
Ms Bue-Said acknowledged the situation is "hideous and disappointing" for passengers whose flights are being cancelled, but added travel agents are attempting to reassure customers that "in the vast majority of cases flights are departing and arriving".
Ms Bue-Said revealed that the number of people who jetted off during last week's half-term school holiday was 21% higher than 2019 levels, while summer holiday bookings are at around 80% of normal.
This represents a "huge surge in demand" compared with the previous two years when the industry was "shut down" due to coronavirus restrictions.
She said: "The significant surge has created a bottleneck in the system.
"The industry is now working really hard to make sure that over the next few weeks we are building resilience and scaling up as much as we can from a workforce point of view to meet customer demand and, frankly, give them a much better experience in some cases than they're experiencing now."
She added: "I'm confident that the industry will get to a point where these bottlenecks will be sorted."