The Transport Secretary has rejected a request by the aviation industry to allow them to recruit workers from overseas, aviation insiders have told the BBC.
Companies asked for special immigration visas for overseas workers at a meeting with Grant Shapps on Wednesday.
Thousands of holidaymakers have seen their travel plans disrupted this week after flight cancellations and delays at airports.
Understaffing is to blame, say experts.
The half-term break and bank holiday Jubilee weekend is the first major test the industry has faced since all Covid travel restrictions were lifted in March. Nearly 27,000 flights out of the UK have been scheduled between 27 May and 5 June, according to aviation data firm Cirium.
However, the industry has struggled to recruit staff to replace those workers who lost their job or left the sector during Covid.
It has resulted in long queues at airports to get through security, check-in baggage or delays in retrieving luggage.