Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the world economy and the financial markets.
UK airlines and airports have been warned about the levels of disruption being by passengers, as people head abroad in the run-up to Easter, some of them for the first time since the pandemic began.
After days of long queues, cancellations and chaotic scenes at airports, the aviation regulator has warned travel firms to stop canceling flights at the last minute and promptly pay compensation to disrupted passengers.
Civil Aviation Authority chief executive Richard Moriarty has written to airlines and airports, saying:
“Instances of late notice cancellations and excessive delays at airports are not just distressing for affected consumers but have the potential to impact confidence levels across the industry, at just the point when passengers are returning to flying.”
The CAA’sa warning comes as airlines and cross-channel services brace for their busiest weekend since the start of the pandemic, with outbound and returning holidaymakers set to swell numbers at ports that are already struggling to cope with surging demand.
Airports and airlines have blamed recruitment problems, and illness from Covid-19, for leaving them short-staffed. Having cut staff once the pandemic began, the industry is trying to meet renewed demand for travel after the UK lifted the last testing restrictions on 18 March.
Moriarty, though, says recruitment should have been faster, and insists the travel sector sets “deliverable” schedules:
We know that you are working hard to recruit these new colleagues, but it is clear that this has not always happened sufficiently quickly to cope with the increased passenger travel in recent days.
Given the consequences for passengers of canceled and disrupted journeys I encourage you to do all you can to ensure that you have the necessary level of appropriately-trained and cleared staff resources in place.”
It is “very important” that airlines are setting schedules “on a basis that is deliverable given available staff (including contractors), and has resilience for staff sickness, including from Covid,” Mr Moriarty added.
Hundreds of flights have been canceled in recent days, with British Airways canceling another 74 flights on Thursday and easyJet 52.
There’s also disruption in Kent, where an eastward section of the M20 was shut this week for thousands of lorries to park, due to delays at the port of Dover.
So coming up today.
In the energy markets, the Brent crude oil price is hovering around $100 per barrel after members of the International Energy Agency agreed to release another 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency stocks yesterday, amid a shortage exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Boris Johnson is set to meet the German Chancellor as they look to discuss how to help European countries wean themselves off Russian gas following the attack on Ukraine.
- 12.15pm BST: ECB board member Fabio Panetta speaks at the ‘Technology and Finance’ conference organized by IESE Business School
- 1.30pm BST: Canadian jobs report for March