European air passengers warned of travel chaos as airports brace for 'high overloads' over summer
Air traffic control centres are bracing for an influx of passengers and routes this summer, with delays and diversions likely
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As millions of British residents prepare to jet off over the busy summer months, airport bosses across Europe have warned of possible "challenging times ahead" as passenger number look set to increase.
Key locations have been singled out as facing an extraordinary amount of passengers and pressure on the travel system, according to Eurocontrol. The organisation, which manages airspace across the continent, has warned passengers that "high overloads" of traffic could cause delays at major airports.
It comes as airports continue to see an increase in passengers following the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of journeys also increasing. Eurocontrol's director-general, Raúl Medina, also pointed towards the ongoing war in Ukraine as a challenge for the industry.
Speaking to The Times, he said: “This summer in Europe is challenging as we have less available airspace because of the war in Ukraine and the military needs . . . We need everyone to play their part. Airports need to be well staffed, it is vital [air traffic services] provide enough capacity and airlines stick to their schedules.”
The concerns have been shared by budget airline easyJet, which has already cancelled some journeys as a result of "air-traffic control restrictions".
Which cities could be hit by air control issues?
Among those cities expected to be impacted are, Athens, Belgrade, Budapest, Nicosa, Reims, Warsaw and Zagreb. Athens and Reims are expected to be hit by a high overload on "most days", while Belgrade and Zagreb will be hit on Saturday 8 July and Saturday 15 July.
Nicosa will be affected on most Fridays in the month, Budapest on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and Warsaw on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
How could flights be affected by air control issues?
According to Eurocontrol, Fridays in July are set to be the busiest travel days, with more than 34,000 flights scheduled per day in the European airpsace. With restrictions over Ukraine and an increasing number of aircaft sharing the airpsace, journeys may increase in time as some re-route to avoid restrictions.
Delays may also take place as the number of flights in an air-traffic control sector becomes restricted.
Why are flights being affected by air-traffic issues?
The sharp increase in the number of flights, as well as a range of factors impacting the capacity of air-traffic control sectors means that passengers may feel the impacts of this.
Staffing issues have also hit the sector. The number of air traffic controllers leaving the industry following the industry-halting Covid pandemic has vastly outnumbered the number of those being fully trained in existing positions.
This, mixed with the reduced airspace over Ukraine, means that flights across Europe could be impacted in the coming weeks.