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Airlines urge Europe to act to avoid repeat of summer delays

Airlines have warned European countries to take "urgent" action to bring in more staff and better check-in services to avoid a repeat of last summer's flight delays.
Airlines for Europe (A4E) claimed understaffing and a lack of services, such as automated check-in desks, contributed to a 300pc year-on-year increase in flight delays at some airports, causing thousands of passengers to miss connecting flights.
A recent EU regulation means extra Schengen area border controls need to be carried out, adding 20 seconds to a passenger’s processing time, equivalent to an hour for a full flight.
These were introduced in March last year in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks. The new rules demand both entry and exit checks on passengers from countries – including Britain – outside the 26-nation Schengen border-free zone. This caused major summer delays last year across Europe, including in Madrid, Lisbon, Lyon, Paris-Orly, Milan and Brussels.
The trade body, which represents 30 airlines, held its second annual summit on Tuesday and warned the new rules had a “disproportionate impact” on the punctuality of flights. 
Airlines urge Europe to act to avoid repeat of summer delays

Low staffing levels and a lack of automated check-in desks are being blamed for contributing to significant delays at Europe's airports

Credit:
Steve Parsons/PA
"While recognising that some member states have taken measures to alleviate the situation, we remain cautious as still more needs to be done in terms of staffing and investments in automation," Thomas Reynaert, managing director of A4E said.
He added that passenger numbers were expected to continue to grow significantly, meaning there was an "urgent need" for improvement.
Border staff are employed by the governments of individual nation states and an EU spokesman said it was up to authorities in each country to provide the right level of staff and facilities.
Mr Reynaert said the number of delays caused by air traffic control was also rising faster than the rise in the number of flights. A total of 25,500 flights were delayed in 2017 due to air traffic-related issues, up from 23,870 in 2016.
A4E urged authorities across Europe to take action “otherwise airlines will again have to fly longer routes, some routes will be restricted or flights will be delayed on the ground”.
“This, in turn, causes knock-on effects throughout the network, including airline crews exceeding their working hours leading to frustrating delays for passengers,” Mr Reynaert added.
Airlines urge Europe to act to avoid repeat of summer delays

Willie Walsh will now be chairman of the trade body Airlines for Europe

Credit:
Niall Carson/CITY IAG
A4E also announced Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, would become chairman of the body in place of incumbent Carsten Spohr, who runs Lufthansa.
The trade body also welcomed a recently-announced review into European airport charges,  which it said had doubled at the largest airports in the past 10 years in spite of average intra-Europe air fares dropping from €199 (?177) to €96 in the same period.
A4E, which launched in 2016, has 14 member airlines, with more than 644 million passengers, accounting for more than 70pc of the continent’s traffic.
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