British Airways has cancelled more than 10,000 flights in a blow for as many as a million summer holidaymakers as it battles against a staffing crisis.
The airline said it had axed 10,300 short-haul trips that were scheduled to run from the start of August until the end of October, with a host of popular destinations in France, Spain and Greece likely to be affected.
The latest cuts are on top of 16,000 flight cancellations revealed by BA in May, meaning that around 17pc of its planned summer schedule has now been ditched.
BA culled around 10,000 staff during the Covid pandemic, and found itself unable to rehire workers fast enough.
The airline and its rivals have struggled to increase operations after restrictions were eased, blaming delays in vetting procedures for new staff and a lack of interest in some roles.
Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, declared in June that workers no longer want to be baggage handlers.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said the latest blow to consumers was a "damning indictment" of the company's management.
Mr Boland said: “The latest raft of flight cancellations is a damning indictment of BA's mismanagement of its summer schedule.
“BA has continued to promote and sell flights it could not fulfill, even as thousands of customers have faced the chaos of cancellations in recent weeks.”
A British Airways spokesman said: “The whole aviation industry continues to face significant challenges and we're completely focussed on building resilience into our operation to give customers the certainty they deserve.
“While most of our flights are unaffected and the majority of customers will get away as planned, we don't underestimate the impact this will have and we're doing everything we can to get their travel plans back on track.”
It came as Which? has said easyJet may have broken the law by leaving passengers to sleep on floors instead of offering alternative flights, and should face action from the regulator.
The consumer group called for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to launch an official investigation into easyJet’s treatment of passengers amid widespread cancellations and delays at airports.
Which? said that it had heard from passengers who were kept in the dark about their legal right to hundreds of pounds in compensation and the chance to be rerouted with other airlines after easyJet cancelled their flight.
After cancelling a flight, airlines are required to provide an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity. They should place customers on flights operated by rival airlines if this is the best option for the customer.
However, Which? Found that easyJet directs passengers to the ‘Manage my booking’ section of its app and website when their flight has been cancelled and this only gives them the option to rebook on an easyJet flight.
Which? has reported easyJet to the CAA, asking the regulator to investigate and take action to protect passengers and their rights.
The CAA has already promised to take action against any airline found to be “systematically letting consumers down”.
However, it warned that airlines were routinely flouting the rules because the CAA has limited powers to take action against airlines. The government is consulting on plans to beef up the regulator’s powers, including the ability to fine airlines directly when they break the rules.
An easyJet spokesman said: "This claim is unfounded so we strongly reject it. While we are of course very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers when their flights have been disrupted, we are compliant with the regulations and take our obligations under the regulations seriously.
Customers are able to secure flights by alternative carriers via our customer contact centres or book themselves and then claim back the cost from us. This information is clearly displayed on our delays & cancellations help page which customers receive a link to."