Swoop Airlines has cancelled a series of flights from London International Airport, rescheduling them days later, and airport officials are demanding answers – and a solution.
Airport chief executive Scott McFadzen met last week with Swoop executives to press the issue and has had meetings with airport officials at Orlando’s Sanford airport, where the flights land.
The issue is Swoop flights from Florida or Mexico have been delayed landing in London, and those planes are used for a flight scheduled to leave London for Orlando in the early afternoon landing at about 4 p.m. But U.S. customs officials shut down their Orlando airport office at about 5 p.m.
That means a flight delayed out of London, even by a half hour, may not land in time to be cleared by U.S. Customs, forcing the airline to cancel the flight and reschedule it two days later.
“We can’t have this continue. We’re looking for solutions,” McFadzean said. “It’s not sustainable and it will not continue.”
Flights into London are delayed anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes on average and that’s enough to force a cancellation, he said. The solution may lie in adjusting flight times for aircraft landing in London to earlier in the day, so there is time to get through U.S. Customs even with a delay, McFadzean said.
“Arriving flights are coming in late and getting to Sanford too late, so they’re cancelling. Customs is off the clock at 5 p.m. That’s the reason this has happened,” he said. “We ‘re working with Sanford and Swoop.”
With Western University reading week starting and March Break flights looming next month, a solution is a priority, McFadzean said.
Wayne Gliddon was a passenger on a Swoop flight from London to Orlando Jan. 14 that was delayed and then cancelled, and he was forced to take a flight Jan. 16, meaning he lost two vacation days in Florida.
He filed an air passenger protection claim for compensation, but Swoop said the delay of their flight into London was beyond their control, he said.
A spokesperson for Swoop said U.S. Customs and Border Patrol recently decided to close its office at Orlando’s Sanford airport earlier in the day.
The Swoop flight from London to Sanford airport on Jan. 14 was cancelled because the office would not accommodate a late arrival, Julie Pondant of Swoop said in an email. Swoop has been working with U.S. Customs in Sanford, she said.
“Today we we can confirm that we have reached an agreement that will allow Swoop’s flights to land and be cleared as needed after its scheduled time until the end of our winter schedule,” Ponfort said.
Gliddon noticed flights also were cancelled Jan. 28, Feb. 7, Feb. 9 and most recently Feb. 16.
“I don’t know what is going on. It’s a hassle. I don’t know what to do,” Gliddon said.
He also has booked a cruise in April and is worried he will miss the cruise if his flight is cancelled. He already has paid $377 for flights to Orlando in April, but is considering rebooking on another airline or at another airport, even though he will lose that money.
“I’m looking for an alternative in April. I don’t want the stress and worry for two months that I will not get there,” Gliddon said. “It has opened my eyes about what can happen. It made me realize how important it is to plan flights.”
Air passenger protection legislation, passed in 2019, states airlines must provide compensation for flight cancellations and flight delays of three hours or more, if the disruption is within their control and not safety related.
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