• British Airways reduced its summer flight schedules by 10% amid staff shortages.
  • Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines had already cut flight numbers this year.
  • Demand is returning to pre-pandemic levels but airlines are dealing with a lack of staff.

British Airways reduced its flight schedules this summer, following its decision to cut almost 10,000 jobs when it faced travel restrictions during the pandemic.

The Financial Times reported the news on Saturday.  

The UK airline is joining several other carriers in slashing the number of flights it is offering passengers this year. It plans to cut 10% of its flight schedules between March and October, due to a shortage in staff, according to the FT.

JetBlue Airways cut flights for May by between 8% and 10% and plans to make similar reductions for the summer, a CNBC report says. JetBlue made 2,500 new hires already this year but it is still understaffed, per the report. 

Similarly, Alaska Airlines cut 2% of its flight schedule until the end of June after being forced to cut flights in April as a result of a lack of staff, per the CNBC report. While Southwest Airlines cut 65,000 spring flights, an SEC filing shows, and 20,000 summer flights, Dallas Morning News reported.

The airline industry is now grappling with staff shortages as it previously cut its workforce during the pandemic, amid global travel restrictions and reduced demand. Delta Air Lines was forced to drop more than 10 routes last year because of the slowdown in demand. 

The number of flights British Airways has cut is the equivalent of 8,000 round trips, a majority on short-haul routes, British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle told the FT.

The airline plans to hire 6,000 new staff members to cope with demand, which Doyle says is between 65% and 70% of 2019 levels for business travel. 

"The US carriers had similar rebuild problems earlier in the process, we see problems in Europe and the UK industry getting the system back up and running," Doyle told the FT. 

However, not all airlines are coping with the return in demand but cutting flights as they have fewer operational challenges than big carriers. 

British Airways told Insider that while the past few weeks have been "challenging," the company is focused on its customers, supporting its "biggest recruitment drive," and increasing its operational resilience.

"We've taken action to reduce our schedule to help provide certainty for our customers and are giving them maximum flexibility to either rebook with us or another airline as close to their original departure time as possible, or to receive a full refund," British Airways said in a statement.  

JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines were not immediately available for comment. 


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