As the second-quarter financial results season kicked off this week, there was a striking comment from Delta Air Lines about the measures it is taking to combat operational challenges.
Citing “baggage issues” at European airports in particular, the SkyTeam carrier said it recently sent one of its aircraft to Europe to repatriate luggage that had gone missing.
That came after Icelandic national broadcasting service RUV reported that Icelandair has been flying two baggage handlers on its Amsterdam Schiphol services amid staffing shortages at the Dutch hub. It is considering doing the same on other routes, RUV quoted Icelandair’s director of communications and sustainability, Asdis Petursdottir, as saying..
Adversity can sometimes prompt solutions that prove beneficial in the longer-term, but it remains to be seen whether baggage-only flights and onboard ground-handlers catch on.
It is certainly the case that the industry still needs solutions to its operational challenges, with moves to cap summer capacity continuing this week.
On Monday, European budget carrier Wizz Air said it is limiting summer capacity growth to around 35% compared with the pre-crisis level, in order to reduce risks of operational disruption over the peak period.
The next day, London Heathrow airport announced a capacity cap for the peak summer travel season and requested that its airline customers stop selling tickets for the period, citing the challenges posed by the “legacy of Covid”.
That drew a strong response from Emirates Airline, which on Thursday described the move as “unreasonable and unacceptable” and vowed to continue its full schedule of Heathrow services.
Its comments were along similar lines to those made at the end of last week by Jet2 executive chair Philip Meeson, who said “most” of the airline’s 10 base airports in the UK – which do not include Heathrow – have been “poorly resourced”, while ground-handlers had shown an “inexcusable” inability to cope and demonstrated “often atrocious” customer service.
But amid industry operational woes, Delta’s financial performance provided a reminder of the good that is happening alongside the challenges, as it reported second-quarter revenue up 10% on 2019 levels.