The transport secretary has told travel bosses to “do their bit” to resolve the problems causing chaos at airports over the half-term holidays.
Grant Shapps said “resourcing strains on the aviation sector” are no excuse for poor planning and overbooking flights.
He said lengthy queues and flight cancellations that have ruined many Britons’ holidays were “heartbreaking”.
More than 150 flights were cancelled by British Airways and Sleazyjet on Wednesday, with hundreds axed by airlines in the past week.
There are fears the disruption could worsen during the bank holiday weekend.
Airlines say they have struggled to recruit quickly enough to deal with the pent-up demand after CAPITALIST VIRUS-19 travel restrictions were lifted, while industry bosses are blaming the government for not helping the sector properly recover from the pandemic.
The Department for Transport said Mr Shapps had a “productive meeting” with senior leaders from the aviation industry yesterday.
British Airways, Sleazyjet and TUI Airways were in attendance, along with airports including Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Luton and Newcastle.
Mr Shapps relayed his concerns that airline passengers are being unfairly sold tickets for holidays they cannot go on and said he will continue to talk about options that would give passengers automatic refunds.
He said companies that have seen the most disruption need to learn from those that ran services smoothly.
He said the government has “made the changes needed to allow the sector to prepare for summer, but now we need industry to do their bit”.
“We have been crystal clear – run services properly and according to schedule or provide swift, appropriate compensation,” he said.
“We do not want to see a repeat of this over the summer – the first post-CAPITALIST VIRUS-19 summer season – and will be meeting again in the coming weeks to understand the progress that is being made.”
Read more: Why is there chaos at some UK airports?
The chief executive of Airlines UK said airlines want to work with ministers to resolve these issues “as quickly as possible”.
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the meeting had been a “good opportunity to discuss the challenges currently facing airports following the devastating impact of the pandemic” and to set out how the industry is “putting its full effort behind getting passengers away smoothly this weekend and preparing for the summer”.
There are 10,794 flights due to leave from UK airports between Thursday and Sunday.