The transport secretary has demanded a meeting with aviation bosses and says it is “on airports, airlines and ground handlers” to ensure “well-deserved holidays” go ahead.
Grant Shapps said the government had “done its part” and that although “some steps have been taken, we are still not seeing the progress we need to”.
British Airways cancelled at least another 124 short-haul flights from Heathrow on Wednesday, saying passengers had been warned in advance, while EasyJet dropped at least 31 flights from Gatwick.
Mr Shapps said that “despite government warnings, operators seriously oversold flights and holidays relative to their capacity to deliver”.
“Where the industry has asked us to make changes to help them meet demand we have done so – for example, changing the law to speed up bringing in newly recruited staff,” he said.
“On top of that, we provided £8bn of support to the industry during the pandemic.”
Ministers will be meeting “airports, airlines and ground handlers again to find out what’s gone wrong and how they are planning to end the current run of cancellations and delays”, Mr Shapps continued.
Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, said there had “clearly been a lack of preparation for that surge back of holidaymakers”.
He told Sky News: “I don’t think the airline operators have done the recruitment they should have done.”
Passengers said the travel industry had failed them.
Nicole Pinto, drummer in punk band Girls In Synthesis, told Sky News that a flight she was due to take on Friday from Gatwick to Nantes in France was cancelled with “no explanation”.
She had already checked in her cymbals and had to wait more than two and a half hours to get them back.
The band had “lost income” and been “failed” by the travel industry, she said, adding: “We can’t rely on transportation.”
Ryan Howsam, chief executive of the Staysure insurance company, told Sky News he found it “bemusing that airlines are not informing passengers [of potential problems] early on”.
He added: “They would know a long time in advance that they’ve got this problem, so to have customers stranded at the airport is totally unacceptable.”
TUI, the German holiday giant, has cancelled what it calls a “small number” of flights – nearly 200 – from Manchester airport between now and 30 June because of “ongoing challenges”.