Airport slot amnesty: Why there could be flight cancellations for Sheffield holidaymakers in coming days

Holidaymakers could see more travel disruption in the coming days because of flight cancellations – here’s everything you need to know.

Monday, 4th July 2022, 1:33 pm

The Government’s deadline for when airlines can call off flights they don’t think they’ll be able to staff is July 8.

If a flight is planned later this summer and airlines feel they will not be able to staff it, they can cancel it without incurring fines or penalties.

It means holidaygoers could see a wave of cancellations in the next two weeks and will have to find alternative travel.

Government regulations will allow a one-off "amnesty" on airport slots rules, enabling airlines to plan ahead and deliver a more realistic summer schedule with a view to minimising disruption at airports. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

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What is the Government’s ‘flight slot amnesty’ and will it cancel my flight?

On June 22, the Government announced a one-off ‘flight slot amnesty’ in a bid to cut down on last-minute flight cancellations.

The reason for this is because of how airlines plan flights and how the recent difficulties in recruiting cabin crews has led to cancellations.

Flight slots are used to manage capacity at the busiest airports, giving an airline permission to use the runway, terminal and gates at an airport on a specific date and time.

Airlines must use slots a certain amount of times each season in order to keep them. However, many parts of the sector have been unable to recruit enough staff in time to fly the number of flights they have planned for.

This leads to flights being cancelled at short notice, which pulls the rug from under passengers.

As a result, the Government has now given airlines an ‘amnesty’ until July 8 to hand back these flight slots if they don’t think they can staff them.

If successful, passengers will at least be told if their flight is cancelled a few weeks in advance rather than when they’re at the gate.

So, when the deadline ends on July 8, holidaymakers could see their flight called off and be prepared to make new plans.

British Aiways and Heathrow Airport have welcomed the scheme.

Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?

If your flight is cancelled, your airline must offer to book you on another alternative route as close to your original arrival time as possible.

You will be entitled to a full refund for flights but you can only accept either a refund or a rebooking, not both. Given the advance warning, in this case compensation will not be available to passengers who have to change their plans.

You can check with your airline for how to claim your refund.

How have airlines reacted to the amnesty?

A spokeswoman for British Airways said: “We welcome these new measures, which help us to provide the certainty our customers deserve by making it easier to consolidate some of our quieter daily flights to multi-frequency destinations well in advance, and to protect more of our holiday flights.”

A spokesman for Heathrow said the slot amnesty is “good news for passengers”, adding: “This amnesty will enable airlines to make early choices to consolidate their schedules, boosting the resilience of summer operations and giving passengers the confidence they deserve ahead of their journeys.

“We encourage airlines to take this opportunity to reconsider their summer schedules without penalty and inform passengers as early as possible of any changes.”