Britain’s largest budget airline has confirmed it will cancel hundreds of flights this summer as it struggles with its promised schedule.
Instead of running 97 percent of its pre-Covid summer program, easyJet now expects to operate 90 percent.
After a weekend in which dozens of short-term flights were grounded, the airline said: “Travel demand has returned with passengers in April and May, seven times the same months last year.
“Given the unprecedented growth rate, the aviation industry across Europe is experiencing operational problems with root causes similar to the post-Covid supply chain problems encountered in many other parts of the economy.
“The challenges include air traffic control delays and staff shortages in ground handling and at airports, resulting in longer aircraft turnaround times and delayed departures that have a knock-on effect resulting in flight cancellations.
“A very tight labor market for the entire ecosystem including crew, exacerbated by longer ID check times, has further reduced planned resilience.
“This is reflected in the flight limits recently announced at two of our largest airports, London Gatwick and Amsterdam.
“In response to these limits and to build additional resilience, easyJet is proactively consolidating a number of flights at affected airports.
“This provides customers with advance warning and the option to rebook to alternative flights. Given easyJet’s high-frequency network, we expect to be able to rebook the majority of customers on alternative flights, many falling on the same day they originally booked.”
The Civil Aviation Authority told airlines last week that passengers whose flights have been canceled should be able to travel on the same day if a seat is available, including on competing airlines.
But easyJet argues that if it can offer an alternative within 24 hours, it won’t have to pay for flights from other airlines.
The CEO, Johan Lundgren, said: “We are sorry that we have not been able to provide the service they have come to expect from us for some customers.
“While in recent weeks the measures we have taken to build greater resilience have allowed us to continue operating up to 1,700 flights and transporting up to a quarter of a million customers per day, unfortunately the ongoing challenging work environment is still impacting what led to cancellations.
“Combined with airport caps, we are taking preventive measures to increase resilience over the course of the summer, including a series of further flight consolidations at the affected airports, providing advance notice to customers and expecting the vast majority to be rebooked on alternative flights within 24 hours.”
On Friday, easyJet’s main base, Gatwick Airport, said a limit of 825 movements per day in July and 850 in August, forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.
Passengers who are notified at least 14 days in advance of cancellations are not entitled to compensation.