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Flight Cancellations: Consequences of Covid-19 for the Tourism Industry

It was inevitable that Covid-19 restrictions would have a devastating effect on the travel and tourism industry. The tourism sector was hit hard, with flights grounded, tourist destinations deserted, and holiday resorts gathering cobwebs. But now, travel restrictions are easing. The industry is overwhelmed by avid travellers desperate to holiday aboard after years of deprivation. What are the consequences of stalling the tourism industry for almost two years, then rendering it busier than ever before?



From February to April 2020, within the space of only two months, travellers arriving in the UK dwindled from 6,804,900 to a mere 112,300 - a fall of 98.3%. As a result, airline companies no longer needed nor could afford their typical workforce and so began making the cuts. In 2020, during the pandemic’s peak, EasyJet announced plans to lay off up to 30% of its staff.


And now, since the grand reopening of international borders, airline companies like EasyJet are struggling to cope. As keen travellers swarm the airports, understaffed airline companies cannot supply the increasing demand. On June 5th, Gatwick Airport alone faced 52 cancelled departures, most which were made by EasyJet, while airport security staff are unable to cope with queues that reach beyond the airport’s exterior. 


Having had family members left stranded abroad for five additional days from their expected return date, the lack of concern and minimal provision of refunds by airline company ‘EasyJet’ is alarming. Thousands are left in similar situations, including those with children who are missing school, elderly persons who are struggling to carry out the online refund process, and people who are missing work – and, therefore, wages. Furthermore, it seems EasyJet is unwilling to pay for the consequences of its actions, by continually denying receipt-documented hotel rooms that became mandatory for passengers after flight cancellations and no alternate route home.  


And it isn’t just the airline companies that are drowning in demand. The temporary ceasing of passport applications during the peak of Covid-19 has left many people with expired passports. Desperate to holiday abroad, passport applications have reached unprecedented volumes. In March 2022 alone, the British Passport agency (HMPO) processed a record high of over one million new passport applications. And in this post-Brexit epoch, Irish passports are in astonishing demand, particularly by Northern Irish nationals who are entitled to dual citizenship (both British and Irish) to allow them continued free movement throughout Europe. 



Lockdowns and social distancing measures were put in place for the health and safety of the public while a dangerously unknown virus was in circulation. But now, we must manage the long-term consequences that these measures have attributed, which are limited not to the travel and tourism industry. Based on these drastically increasing travel statistics in recent months, the industry seems destined to make a full recovery. Other businesses, public sectors, and people may not be so lucky. 

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