Travel News

Could my summer holiday flight be cancelled because of plane problems?

Simon Calder’s Travel

International travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic started to be lifted in March 2022. Ever since, the airline industry has been struggling to keep pace with demand. At the same time, carriers have been putting up fares to take advantage of the limited supply of seats.

Looking ahead to summer 2024, the outlook is for higher prices still and less availability due to problems with the most popular aircraft for European flights: the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 family.

Delays in Boeing aircraft deliveries because of safety concerns, combined with an issue affecting some Airbus engines, means some airlines may struggle to fulfil their planned operations – and fares are likely to rise.

Airlines will charge whatever they can get away with – more enthusiastically than ever as they try to make up for the billions they lost during Covid. And with lots of money chasing fewer seats, they can cash in like never before on what the market will bear. British Airways’ parent company, IAG, has just announced record profits.

So could new flights cost even more – and might existing bookings be cancelled? These are the key questions and answers.

Which airlines are affected?

Two of the biggest budget airlines serving the UK will not have the aircraft fleets they expected when they planned their summer 2024 programmes.

Ryanair now expects to receive just 40 of the 57 planned Boeing 737 Max aircraft that were due to be delivered to Ryanair before the end of June 2024.

Wizz Air has 42 Airbus A320 series aircraft grounded for inspections of their Pratt & Whitney GTF (geared turbofan) engines.

The Lufthansa Group – which includes Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines, as well as the German national carrier – is reported to have 62 Airbus aircraft on the ground.

While other leading airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Jet2 are encountering no such problems, the shortfall in seats is cutting availability and raising prices.

The 17 aircraft Ryanair now expects not to receive in time for summer would have flown a total of 20,000 seats per day – or 1.85 million in the course of July, August and September.

The airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “We expect these latest Boeing delivery delays, which regrettably are beyond Ryanair’s control, combined with the grounding of up to 20 per cent of our…

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