HOLIDAYMAKERS have been warned that they face chaos and last minute cancellations at airports this summer, after a government rule change.
With queues and cancellations all too common for travellers last summer, people are hoping that going away this year will be a less stressful experience.
However, travel experts are now warning that similar scenes could return to airports again, after the government reintroduced its 80:20 slot usage rule for airlines.
The rule states that carriers need to use their allocated take-off slots at airports, at least 80 per cent of the time in order to retain them.
If they don't meet the quota, their spaces at those airports can be given to other airlines.
During the pandemic when far fewer flights were being operated, a "slot amnesty" was put in place, to reduce the pressure on airlines having to hit the targets.
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However, the 80:20 rule is being brought back in ahead of this summer and Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, has warned that it could be a big problem for holidaymakers.
He said: “Travellers faced complete chaos last summer, with many airlines consistently failing in their ability to deliver anything close to a reliable service.
"With some companies still in the process of re-staffing, and tickets selling in record numbers, the government's decision to drop the airline slots amnesty could mean airlines once again resorting to last-minute cancellations if they are not fully prepared for the summer season."
Rory has urged airlines to make sure they can provide the services they are offering to passengers – and has called on the government to be stricter to airlines who break promises.
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He continued: "It is essential that airlines and airports take every necessary step to ensure they can deliver their promised schedules.
"The government must not hesitate in taking action against any airlines found once again to be taking bookings they cannot fulfil.
“The government must also urgently set out legislation to give the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) stronger enforcement powers, so that it can properly regulate the aviation sector.
"Without decisive action, some airlines will continue to neglect their legal responsibilities and mistreat passengers, as we have seen repeatedly in the last few years.”
One airline has already left thousands of passengers stranded this year, with Flybe cancelling hundreds of flights.
Last week it was expected around 2,500 passengers were due to travel with the airline, and about 75,000 passengers in total have had flights cancelled, according to the BBC.
People with Flybe bookings were told not to travel to the airport after the sudden collapse of the airline.
Fuming customers flocked to social media to try and figure out their next steps.
One wrote: "Stranded in Geneva now, due to fly tomorrow morning. Spent my last euro at aprés, what do I do now?"
Another added: "Stranded at Heathrow after we were told we’d been rebooked on a new flight this morning!"
A third fumed: "My daughter due to fly back to university today.
"You allowed me to book extras yesterday and take my money. The second time this has happened. What utter, utter scumbags."
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Meanwhile, strikes in Spanish airports are threatening to cause chaos and disruption over half-term.
And Brits have been issued a warning over visiting another popular holiday destination this year.
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