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The leading causes of air and rail travel disruption and how your business can deal with them

Posted Oct 28, 2022

The leading causes of air and rail travel disruption and how your business can deal with them cmac

Given the host of organisations and people involved in any journey — and its dependence on many conditions aligning to provide a smooth, trouble-free experience — it’s no surprise that so many are disrupted. And the chances of mishap increase the longer and more complex an itinerary is.

What are the main causes of travel disruption?

Principal reasons for flight and train delays include:

  • Strikes

  • Staff shortages

  • Extreme weather events

  • Mechanical breakdowns

  • Accidents

  • Overbookings

  • Fires

  • Power cuts

  • IT failures

  • Physical damage to rail lines

Sometimes, last-minute cancellations are simply never explained.

In August, the ONS reported that one in three UK adults (34%) who had travelled abroad in the last eight weeks had suffered some sort of disruption. And with air passengers making up 90% of the mix, the scale of the problem is clear. It’s also worth bearing in mind that this is an international issue, with travellers potentially affected at any departure point, globally.

Both rail and air travel are also regularly impacted by the weather. Extreme heat slowed trains and gummed timetables this summer, causing cancellations because of buckled rails and trackside fires. Meanwhile, recent winters have seen floods and storms wash away parts of the line, high winds bring down overhead lines and snow blocking routes.

Flights may be cancelled because of blizzards, ice and poor visibility in the colder months, while there are fears that rising temperatures could leave more planes on the runway if thinner air density makes take-off and landing unsafe.

What can travel providers do?

Whatever the reason for the failure to depart on time, huge numbers of passengers are left in limbo at transport hubs, as they await information or replacement services. Those stranded very far from home will feel very vulnerable if there is no prospect of immediate onward travel or comfortable accommodation while they wait.

It’s vital, then, for travel providers to have a managed transport and accommodation partner who can provide them with a pre-prepared, tailored, emergency transport solution for any event. This allows them to always meet their specific goals and minimise the stress, isolation and frustration felt by travellers.

In the face of rising transport chaos, it has never been more important for travellers to always have the reassurance that help will be at hand should anything go wrong when away from home.

Flight delays

Air traffic disruptions — late departures, journey diversions and last-minute cancellations — cost the aviation industry billions of pounds every year.

Every second counts if services are disrupted. In response, CMAC’s seamless solutions ensure that impacts are minimised for passengers and crew. With our Delay and Divert package, you can tap into mass transport and accommodation services when a flight is cancelled, delayed or diverted to a different airport.

We’ve helped clients navigate major events like the Beast from the East, the repatriation of Ryanair passengers because of Storm Ionas and the rescue of Thomas Cook customers, which left passengers stranded around the world by the company’s collapse.

Train service interruptions

Regular rail travel disruption makes it essential to always have a reliable plan in place to cover any situation, ensuring that travellers can reach their destination whatever happens.

For 15 years, our Rail Replacement facility has taken passengers to where they need to be when services are interrupted. Always offering the highest thresholds, special attention and sensitivity are given to vulnerable passengers and those with disabilities.

Our on-demand managed taxi service for Northern Trains is a terrific example of what we can do for travellers and businesses when disaster strikes.

How can CMAC help?

The critical test of any service provider is how they perform when things go wrong but, as a multi-award winning transport specialist, managing travel disruption is what we’re routinely judged on.

We help any organisation prepare for any incident. Our specialist account management team collaborates with you as soon as the relationship starts to understand your unique requirements and provide the most suitable, flexible solution in all emergencies.

Underpinning our award-winning service is CMAC’s extensive, pre-approved international network of vetted, first-class taxi, private hire, minibus and coach suppliers and hotac providers.

We cover any location, at any time, and our Service Delivery Team is available 24/7/365 to arrange vehicles and accommodation, even at short notice. While other operators simply offer a tech-only solution, CMAC combines technology with hands-on expertise in managing disruptions to every custom requirement.

With a local presence worldwide, you’ll benefit from CMAC’s market knowledge, excellent supplier relations and competitive prices, with no need to maintain a database of approved hotels, taxis and coach operators.

On top of all that, our fixed delay rates ensure there are no spiralling costs.

To find out more about how we can support you in the event of unforeseen travel delays, submit your details here and a member of our team will get back to you. Alternatively, give us a call on 03333 207 100.


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