Panorama episode “Airport Chaos: What’s Gone Wrong?”

Global Travel Management Managing Director Scott Pawley has written to the Producer’s of BBC’s Panorama in response to this week’s episode, Airport Chaos: What’s Gone Wrong?

19 July 2022

Airport Chaos: What’s Gone Wrong?

Dear Panorama  

This week’s edition of Panorama was an interesting, although sadly unbalanced report on the temporary issues facing the aviation industry and affecting airline passengers.   

The selection of statistics highlighted some of the issues facing travel this Summer but did very little to provide the ‘other side of the story’.  Specifically, that travel has returned, it’s growing very quickly and it’s fast approaching business as usual.   

The report claimed that between 2% and 4% of flights are having to be cancelled.  That’s bad news for anyone whose holiday is affected – those passengers should complain and should always demand the compensation that’s due to them.   

But the programme did very little to highlight the fact that between 960 and 980 flights in every thousand are going ahead; close to the 990 flights per thousand in “normal times”.   

Or that Heathrow – for example – has coped with 40 years’ worth of growth in just four months.   

Or that Heathrow has forecast to have as many security staff in place as pre-pandemic levels by the end of this month.   

UK plc requires its businesses to succeed.  And to do this, it relies on the BBC to illustrate the whole picture.  Because confidence in travel breeds success in business.   Business trips can face snags.  But this has always been true – as Aviation Minister Robert Couts said on your programme, “I can never promise there will never be delays”.  But, as Rory Boland also said on your show, “before you book, take a look around what’s happening at the airport near you [and] the airlines you’re considering and make your decision based on that”.  That’s exactly what savvy business travellers do – most effectively by relying on travel management companies to smooth the bumps in the road.   Flight cancellations may affect business plans, but, with careful management and with access to all options, they don’t need to ruin them.  

A case in point is your presenter’s visit to Milano Malpensa, with a crew, to interview Armando Brunini, CEO of SEA Milan Airports.  A crucial business trip that took place, despite “the chaos”.   

Aviation is returning, quicky to the successful, important industry it was, pre-pandemic.  Within weeks, I hope the focus will be on how well international travel has recovered, across all UK airports and all airlines.    

A “panorama” can be defined as something that enables the viewer to see the whole picture.  This week’s episode failed in that regard, because it omitted some of the strides the industry is making.   

I look forward to the follow-up, “Panorama: How Did Aviation Return So Quickly?”  

Yours faithfully  

Scott Pawley  

You can see the episode of Panorama on BBC iPlayer.