Brexit is unlikely to be to blame for travel chaos at airports, HSBC has said, as a shortage of aviation workers is worse in America and “at least as intense elsewhere in Europe”.
Analysts at HSBC noted that while it was "intuitive" to assume stricter immigration rules post-Brexit were the key driver of staffing shortages that have wreaked havoc on millions of British holidaymakers, it added that there was evidence to the contrary elsewhere in the world.
They said: “The US has a much tighter vacancies-to-unemployment ratio. And while airline bosses have blamed recent disruption on Brexit, it seems to be at least as intense elsewhere in Europe.
"Insofar as Brexit has played into the currency weakness, though, it may have had an effect on inflation."
Airlines and airports have bemoaned staffing shortages for the travel chaos, with Brexit regularly blamed for being unable to hire enough workers.
Heathrow, which has escaped much of the chaos until recently by proactively cancelling flights, has suffered in recent weeks as passengers have witnessed huge piles of luggage piled up in arrivals halls and long waits to pass through security checks.
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, last week contradicted aviation minister Robert Court’s assertion that Brexit is not to blame for the staffing shortages.
He said that 8,000 job applications from EU citizens had to be rejected because they were no longer allowed to work for the airline after Britain’s exit from the European bloc.
Mr Courts had said a week earlier: “On the evidence we have, it looks as if Brexit has little if anything to do with it.”
Across the Atlantic, US airports are bracing for chaos ahead of Fourth of July holiday celebrations - some of the country’s biggest each year.
Over the Memorial Day at the end of May and the Federal holiday Juneteenth weekend a fortnight ago, more than 3,000 flights were cancelled and 19,000 were delayed. A reported 1,800 flights have already been cancelled so far this week.
Unlike Europe, America is also facing a dearth of pilots as airlines fail to keep up with burgeoning demand for domestic flights.
Meanwhile in Europe, Spanish staff working for Ryanair and easyJet are going on strike as they demand higher wages amid spiralling inflation.