Gatwick airport has slashed its summer flight capacity, a move that will force airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.
The airport will cut the number of daily flights to 825 in July and 850 in August. It was planning to operate around 900 flights per day.
In total, thousands of flights - roughly one in ten - will have to be scrapped.
Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate said that staffing shortages left the airport with no choice but to instate a cap.
“Airlines will have to trim back their schedules somewhat,” said Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive.
“It is clear that during the Jubilee week a number of companies operating at the airport struggled, in particular because of staff shortages.
“By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers - and also our airlines - to better match their flying programmes with their available resources.”
The move comes days after the UK government ordered airlines to cancel flights now, rather than later, to prevent last minute misery for travellers.
Will my flight from Gatwick be cancelled?
Airlines have already been slashing their flight schedules. EasyJet has scrapped 40 flights per day for the rest of June and July, while British Airways has preemptively cut 8,000 flights from its March-October schedule.
The carriers will now be forced to cut back even further.
EasyJet - the largest carrier operating out of the airport - will be the worst impacted. However, a spokesperson insisted that the airline “expected to be able to reaccommodate the majority of customers.”
It's unclear when airlines will announce the cancellations caused by Gatwick's new flight cap.
However, it’s likely that airlines will cancel flights as early as possible - and with at least 14 days notice - to minimise disruption and compensation payments.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled by an airline, they must find you a new flight or fully refund you. A passenger on a cancelled flight is entitled to a seat on the next available flight to your destination - even if it is with a rival carrier.
Though a disruptive and difficult decision, advance cancellation may prevent some of the chaos currently facing travellers.
Over the past few weeks, EasyJet have been forced to make dozens of on the day cancellations, leaving travellers stranded at airports.
Why is there so much chaos at UK airports?
Queues and cancellations have become increasingly common across Europe since the start of 2022.
At the peak of the COVID pandemic, airports and airlines made roughly 191,000 European aviation workers redundant.
Now, as travel resurges for the first time since 2019, there are not enough staff to handle the travel influx.
Air Council International - Europe's trade body for airports - have predicted that delays are inevitable at two-thirds of European airports this summer.