Thousands of flights canceled to Europe as chaos reigns

 Travellers wait in a long queue to pass through the security check at Heathrow on June 1, 2022 in London, England.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Travellers wait in a long queue to pass through the security check at Heathrow on June 1, 2022 in London, England. Photo credit Carl Court/Getty Images

Thousands of domestic flights in the United States have been getting delayed or canceled due to the ongoing pilot shortage, and now, the chaos is affecting a number of European airports.

Just as people are taking off on their European summer vacations, travelers have had to deal with flight cancellations, delays, lost luggage, and incredibly long lines at security.

In just one week earlier in June, there were roughly 2,000 flights canceled across different major European airports, according to the Associated Press.

Amsterdam Airport Schipol, the Netherlands’ busiest airport, made up 9% of the cancellations and is now cutting back on flights for the rest of the month because "there are about 13,500 seats per day above the capacity that the airport’s security staff can handle," the AP noted.

"It is, of course, frustrating," Schipol CEO Dick Benschop told reporters. "Frustrating for the people concerned, families who have looked forward (to traveling); frustrating for airlines, the first real summer after COVID; frustrating for travel organizations and frustrating for us."

While the Gatwick Airport outside of London said last week that it would be limiting the number of daily flights, per the AP. Starting in July there will only be 825 flights per day, and then just 850 flights per day in August.

"By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers — and also our airlines — to better match their flying programs with their available resources," Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said.

Baggage system issues at the Heathrow Airport in London caused luggage to be spread across the terminal floor, and nearly 5,000 travelers were stuck scrambling as 10% of flights at two terminals were canceled on Monday.

Willie Walsh, head of the International Air Transport Association, emphasized that staffing issues and shortages are hitting the airlines harder than they expected.

"Some airlines are struggling because I think they were hoping to recover staffing levels quicker than they’ve able to do," Walsh said.

"What makes it difficult for us is that many of the jobs cannot be operated remotely, so airlines have not been able to offer the same flexibility for their workforce as other companies," Walsh added. "Pilots have to be present to operate the aircraft, cabin crew have to be present, we have to have people loading bags and assisting passengers."

The newest issue beginning to happen at airports across Europe are strikes. Brussels Airlines in Belgium planned to begin a three-day strike starting on Thursday, causing 315 flights to be cancelled and change the plans of nearly 40,000 travelers.

Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport dealt with two days of strikes earlier this month, one by security workers and another by airport workers over their pay not keeping up with inflation. While at the Heathrow Airport, British Airways staff and ground grew voted to strike over their pay on Thursday, and they will strike at some point this summer after deciding on the dates.