By John Carney
FERMANAGH holidaymakers were given even more reason to worry about their vacations in the sun after Aer Lingus was forced to cancel flights last weekend.
Flights from Belfast, Dublin, and Heathrow were grounded last Sunday, with the airline blaming the cancellations on air traffic control strikes in France, Italy, and Spain, a Covid spike among staff, and ongoing issues at airports.
Aer Lingus said in a statement: “Aer Lingus anticipated the return of demand for travel once Covid restrictions were removed and built appropriate buffers into our plans in order to deal with a reasonable level of additional disruption.
“[Last] weekend, system pressures from ATC strikes, and ongoing issues at airports and among third-party suppliers have regrettably necessitated the cancellation of some flights.
“This pressure on the system has been compounded by a spike in Covid cases among our own teams in the last number of days. Where cancellations have occurred, Aer Lingus has sought to re-accommodate disrupted passengers on the next available alternative service.”
The cancellations come after huge delays earlier this year at Dublin Airport saw over 1,000 travellers miss flights.
However, local travel agent, Richard Cooper, pictured left, of Carefree Travel in Enniskillen, believed there was no need to panic.
“As far as I’m aware Aer Lingus have had no problems (with flights) up until now. Hopefully, this will be a one-off,” he said.
“If you look back before Covid, there were always airport strikes of some kind in Europe. Every single year they threatened to go on strike. It’s a bargaining position they take every summer to get better conditions. It’s nothing new.
“The stories we’re hearing about flights being cancelled are a very small percentage of any airline schedule.
“It makes a lot of news now and then, but I can assure you it’s not deterring anyone from going away. We’ve never been busier.”
This was reinforced last weekend when Dublin Airport enjoyed its busiest weekend of the year after over 50,000 passengers passed through its doors, with numbers expected to remain similar throughout the summer months.
Aer Lingus also got the thumbs up from Ballyconnell professional golfer Leona Maguire who took to Twitter on Monday to show her gratitude to them after she had issues flying with United Airlines.
“2 cancelled flights. Never ever flying @united again, has to be the most unprofessional and unhelpful airline out there,” she tweeted.
Later she tweeted: “8hrs after deplaning, we’ve finally got our bags back and have booked a new ticket on @AerLingus this evening. 28 hours and counting without sleep.”
Aer Lingus announced the introduction of two new domestic routes from Belfast City Airport too, with flights to Cardiff and Southampton beginning on July 7.
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