The boss of British Airways’ owner Luis Gallego has pointed the finger of blame at the government after weeks of travel chaos have seen cancelled flights and lengthy airport queues.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the airlines chief said the government had to “take some accountability for all this,” referring to the shortage-induced travel disruption seen at airports across the country.
Passenger demand has surged in the past couple of months while airports have been hit with staff shortages.
Ministers have criticised airlines and airports in recent weeks, with transport minister Grant Shapps saying the sector should stop overselling flights and make receiving compensation a simpler process.
However, International Airlines Group’s boss Gallego has said the government must work with the aviation sector “in a constructive way.”
He said: “They have said the problem was that we overbooked and didn’t forecast demand, but forecasting demand is one thing we as airlines know how to do.”
“The more difficult thing has been to forecast what the government is going to do,” he added.
In reference to criticism from Shapps, Gallego said: “We were surprised and we want to explain what is happening, because it is not fair to tell the public that this is all caused by the airlines.
“Can we do it better? For sure. Do we have our own problems? For sure. But everybody needs to understand they can do things better.”
British Airways was reported to have cancelled 110 short-haul flights to and from London Heathrow airport on Friday.
The firm is readying for a row with shareholders at its meeting this week over Gallego’s financial rewards.
While IAG has advised shareholders to give the greenlight to a boost in Gallego’s share awards, critics have expressed displeasure at this idea, given the company’s shares are still recovering to their pre-pandemic levels of glory.
Sceptics including Institutional Shareholder Services, Glass Lewis and Minerva Analytics have dubbed the package as “excessive” and called on shareholders to vote down the proposal.
It comes as budget airline EasyJet has cancelled more than 1,500 flights over the past three weeks.