“It’s the right thing to do for our customers and our colleagues,” said a British Airways spokesperson. They were talking about the latest cull of flights: a further 10,300 short-haul flights between August and October, affecting at least one million passengers with existing bookings.
These are the key questions and answers.
Is this a good day to bury bad flight news?
On any normal day, the news that the national airline has cancelled the flights of one million passengers with existing bookings would be the main headline.
But the timing of the announcement, coinciding with the collapse of Boris Johnson’s government, appears accidental.
BA had to provide details of further peak season cancellations by Friday in order to keep its precious portfolio of arrival and departure slots in place next summer.
A British Airways spokesperson said: “This new flexibility means that we can further reduce our schedule and consolidate some of our quieter services so that we can protect as many of our holiday flights as possible.”
Should anyone with a British Airways booking in August, September or October be worried?
British Airways says: “Most of our flights are unaffected and the majority of customers will get away as planned.”
Only domestic and European departures are affected – though passengers who are planning to transfer from Scotland, Manchester, Belfast or Newcastle to long-haul services could be affected.
Flights with multiple frequencies are most likely to go. The Independent has calculated the most frequently cancelled destinations from London Heathrow over the coming 10 days. The table of grounded outbound and inbound flights between today and 15 July reads:
- Nice 72
- Dublin 58
- Amsterdam 54
- Edinburgh 52
- Milan (Linate and Malpensa) 52
- Geneva 44
When will I find out if my flight is axed?
It is likely that notifications will be sent out in the next few days, though it is also possible that the cancellations will be made in stages to avoid too much pressure on the call centre as cancelled travellers try to sort out their arrangements.
Surely this is a win-win, designed to avoid last-minute cancellations?
No. BA has now taken more than 4.5 million seats out of the market. Around 18 per cent of the airline’s promised summer schedule has now been cut.
British travellers will have far fewer seats to choose from this summer, and fares will be much higher than they would otherwise be.
What are my options if my flight is axed?
You can claim a full refund (including for a return leg even if that is still going ahead), though for most passengers a flight on the same day is what they will want and need.
British Airways says: “We’re in touch to apologise and offer rebooking options for new flights with us or another airline as soon as possible or issue a full refund.”
Under European air passengers’ rights rules, affected travellers can insist on being flown on the same day, even if it means BA has to pay for a seat on a rival airline.
If I accept a flight from or to a different airport, will British Airways pay for the extra transportation?
In general BA’s policy is to say “no”, but it is not clear whether this is a sustainable legal position.
If you intend to try to claim, then keep expenditure as low as possible – taking the train or a bus rather than a taxi.
Will I get compensation?
No: British Airways will be providing at least two weeks’ notice of cancellation, and therefore under European air passengers’ rights rules it has no obligation to pay out cash.