Holidaymakers have been warned that flight delays and cancellations are set to continue “right throughout the summer” as airports continue to suffer from staff shortages.
Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said passengers should brace for a “less than satisfactory experience”, with flight delays due to last across the peak season and some airlines cancelling between 5% and 10% of flights.
He described the situation as “deeply regrettable”.
O’Leary said that passengers flying at the weekends would face the brunt of disruption, while it is expected that there will be less disruption during the week.
He said: “This problem is going to continue particularly at airports like Gatwick and Heathrow right throughout the summer.”
The budget airline boss said the vast majority of Ryanair flights are getting away and that the experience was so far better at its Stansted base than other UK airports, but admitted it will be a “struggle through the summer”.
O’Leary blamed the problems on shortages of airport staff across air traffic control, baggage handling and security.
Last weekend, Ryanair saw a quarter of its flights delayed by air traffic control issues, and a further 15% by airports handling delays.
He said Brexit was compounding the disruption caused as demand ramps up after pandemic restrictions were lifted, with airports unable to hire workers from abroad to fill posts.
He said: “There are hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK that frankly British workers don’t want to do.
“These problems will not be resolved until we start allowing people in to do the jobs.”
The comments come after Heathrow asked airlines on Monday to cut 10% of flights at two terminals, while easyJet started cancelling thousands of summer flights.
The move by Heathrow affected around 5,000 passengers at Terminals 2 and 3 on approximately 30 flights.
Images emerged on Friday of a huge pile-up of passengers’ luggage to add to passenger woes with delays and cancelled flights.
In recent weeks, large queues and disruptions have also been seen north of the border at Scottish airports.