The UK Department for Transport has published a series of measures it hopes will “minimise disruption in the aviation sector and protect passengers” this summer.

The 22-point plan is split into three areas: Ensuring industry deliver a realistic summer schedule; Supporting passengers; and Supporting industry to recruit, retain and train staff.

Several of the measures have already been taken in recent weeks, including the one-off “amnesty” on airport slot rules, and changes to the law to allow “more flexibility to train staff and allow them to deploy staff quickly and flexibly while maintaining security standards”.

Government introduces “amnesty” on airport slots rule

The full list of actions can be seen on this page, with new measures including the creation of a new Aviation Passenger Charter, which the DfT describes as “a one-stop guide for passengers informing them of their rights, responsibilities and what they can reasonably expect of the aviation industry when flying”.

The DfT has also worked with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to set out the following “five specific expectations” of the aviation industry for the forthcoming summer period:

  • Summer schedules must be reviewed to make sure they are deliverable
  • Everyone from ground handlers to air traffic control must collaborate on resilience planning
  • Passengers must be promptly informed of their consumer rights when things go wrong and – if necessary – compensation in good time
  • Disabled and less mobile passengers must be given assistance they require
  • Safety and security must never be compromised

UK airlines and airports have suffered from ongoing disruption since the easing of travel restrictions in March, with Gatwick airport recently announcing plans to limit flight capacity during July and August, and Easyjet subsequently making further pre-emptive cuts to its summer schedules.

Easyjet to cut more summer flights following airport capacity caps

In announcing the action plan the DfT said that “The majority of UK flights continue to be on time and without disruption”, but admitted that “some passengers have faced disruption, which has also occurred in the aviation sector across Europe and globally”.

Commenting on the news Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said that while the BTA welcomed the work the DfT had been doing with the aviation industry, “the focus on the summer and leisure travel is disappointing”.

“There needs to be a longer-term strategy to overcome the current disruptions facing both the business and leisure travellers,” said Wratten.

“It is imperative that people travelling for work can have confidence in their arrangements, in order to boost our international trading status.”

Meanwhile the Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee commented:

“While the vast majority of passengers across the UK are getting away on their travels with minimal disruption, airports recognise the impact any delay or disruption can have on passengers. That is why we share government’s ambitions to ensure passengers can enjoy smooth and safe journeys through the summer.

“Airports are working hard to prepare for this: recruitment campaigns for security staff are ongoing and progressing well, with more staff being deployed as they finish their training and security vetting.

“They are also working closely with airlines, the companies managing check-in and baggage on behalf of airlines as well as the government and Civil Aviation Authority to alleviate any delays where they do occur and to support others in the industry who are coping with staff shortages.

“By working closely together in this way, we aim to deliver the service that passengers have rightly come to expect of UK aviation.”