AviationMore turbulence in the air as Scandinavia’s airlines battle staff shortages and airspace challenges.

Heading for Europe? Better check your flight status

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SAS and Finnair are among the airlines which have announced frequency cuts and suspension of inflight service.
SAS and Finnair are among the airlines which have announced frequency cuts and suspension of inflight service. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/encrier

Flights between Europe and Asia continue to face disruption due to the closure of Russian airspace and an unexpected consequence of Covid-19: Airline operations staff who were laid off during the pandemic need to be retrained before they can return to frontline work.

Several airlines have announced frequency cuts and suspension of inflight service.

One of the worst affected airlines has been Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) which has been forced to cancel 4,000 of 75,000 peak season flights. British Airways suspended about 18,000 flights.

SAS laid off around 5,000 employees at the outbreak of the pandemic. Of these, some 2,000 have been rehired but are still unable to fly, as they have not met the qualification requirements.

The airline lays the blame for the cancellations on a severe shortage of instructors, and the unavailability of flight simulators for training and qualification

Finnair has been affected by the closure of Russian airspace which has led to changes to its flights to Asian destinations.

Finnair is using a longer route to Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Bangkok, Phuket, Delhi and Singapore to avoid Russian airspace. Tokyo and Seoul flights have less seats available than normal due to loading reasons and Finnair has been forced to cancel some bookings.

The airline said it is doing its best to re-route affected passengers, “but unfortunately the availability is currently limited”.

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