'Flying will become more expensive for passengers', warns former British Airways boss

·3 min read
File photo dated 29/04/21 of a line of British Airways planes. British Airways is to cancel hundreds more summer flights as previous schedule cuts aimed at easing disruption proved insufficient. Issue date: Tuesday July 5, 2022.
British Airways is cancelling thousands of flights this summer. (PA)

Flying will become more expensive because of soaring oil prices, the former head of British Airways has warned.

Willie Walsh, the former chief executive of the airline, also said passengers are set to face problems at UK airports as they try to go away this summer.

Britain is currently in the grip of a cost of living crisis, with soaring inflation and petrol pump prices already affecting the budgets of millions of people.

A report published on Friday revealed that families are now paying an extra £500 a year to fill up their cars with petrol.

Experts warned on the same day that energy bills could soar to an average of £3,300 per year within months.

On Thursday, British Airways announced it will cancel hundreds more summer flights as previous schedule cuts aimed at easing disruption proved insufficient.

Watch: Gatwick axes hundreds of summer flights over staff shortages

The airline said it had “regrettably” become necessary to further reduce its operations.

Tens of thousands of passengers will be affected by the move to cancel flights at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Walsh, current director-general of the International Air Transport Association, told BBC's Sunday Morning with Sophie Raworth: “I think that it is right that these cancellations are made early because that will allow airlines and their customers to adapt to the revised schedules.

Read more: UK households face tax hikes to stop ‘unsustainable’ debt burden

“I actually expect people to be able to get away. I think there will be some disruption but I don’t think it will be on the scale we have seen to date.

“I believe that there are solutions that have been put in place.”

He also said: “Flights are getting more expensive because of the high price of oil and it has been clear to everybody that will be reflected in higher ticket prices.

“Flying will be more expensive for consumers, without doubt.

“Oil is the single biggest element of an airlines’ cost base. It is inevitable that ultimately the high oil prices will be passed through to consumers.”

The aviation industry is suffering major disruption as a surge in demand for travel coincides with staff shortages across roles such as airline crew, ground handlers, airport security staff and air traffic controllers.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled, with passengers forced to wait for several hours in long queues at airports.

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only BBC handout photo of Willie Walsh, Director general of the International Air Transport Association appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday Morning hosted by Sophie Raworth. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2022.
Willie Walsh, right, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said on Sunday that flights will become more expensive for passengers. (PA)

In May, British Airways announced that it would cancel 10% of flights between April and October in an attempt to avoid having to axe flights on the day of departure.

But the latest cancellations take this figure to around 11%.

Walsh said he was “surprised” that passengers do not yet know which flights are being scrapped.

"I believe they should have been announced as soon as they made clear they would be cancelled," he said.

He said he does not believe airlines will have difficulty in accommodating affected passengers.

BA’s summer flights announcement comes after the government introduced a slot amnesty, which enables airlines temporarily to hand back without punishment any take-off and landing slots they do not have the resources to use.

Under normal rules carriers lose slots if they do not use them.

Watch: Protesters block motorway in stand against cost of fuel

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