Gatwick airport has announced plans to cap operations in July and August.
Two weeks before the start of the July-August peak season, Gatwick airport’s bosses have asked airlines to trim their proposed schedules in the hope “that passengers experience a more reliable and better standard of service”.
The plan is to make cuts now, rather than risk further distressing “on the day” cancellations.
On the busiest days, airlines will be told to cancel up to 50 flights – requiring thousands of passengers already booked on them to find alternative departures.
An airport statement said: “After a significant and rapid upturn in traffic, Gatwick airport is working with airlines to implement deliverable timetables to help prevent short notice and last-minute cancellations.
“Under-resourced airline ground handling companies will cause poor service this summer and delays, unless urgent action is taken.”
The airport has agreed with airlines to reduce planned operations from a maximum of 900 departures and arrivals to 825 in July and 850 in August.
Airport Coordination Ltd, the body that assigns take-off and landing “slots” at Gatwick and other hubs, will stipulate the number of cancellations that each airline must make.
Passengers on easyJet will bear the brunt of the cancelled flights, with British Airways, Wizz Air, Tui, Norwegian and Ryanair also expected to ground departures.
At least 50 easyJet departures and arrivals were grounded at Gatwick on Thursday, along with further flights on British Airways and Wizz Air. An estimated 10,000 passengers did not travel as booked.
Stuart Dempster, who was hoping to fly from Lisbon to Gatwick, tweeted: “@easyJet cancels our flight at short notice from Lisbon to London, with the usual chaotic ‘help’ to support passengers. Rebooked with @tapairportugal tomorrow, in the hope we’ll get home. Never gonna fly easyJet again!”