EasyJet had already said only 97 percent of flights would operate over the summer, but now it is cutting that back to 90 percent - Joel Hills reports
EasyJet has announced it is “proactively” cancelling flights at Gatwick in response to a cap introduced by the airport.
The airline has cancelled dozens of daily flights at the West Sussex airport in recent weeks, including some when passengers were already on the plane. It said it wants to “build additional resilience” as the aviation sector across Europe is experiencing “operational issues”.
These include air traffic control delays, staff shortages in ground handling and at airports, and increased times for identity checks of new recruits.
Heathrow has also asked airlines to cut 10% of flights at two terminals on Monday. The move affected around 5,000 passengers at Terminals 2 and 3 on approximately 30 flights.
It comes after images emerged on Friday of a huge pile-up of passengers’ luggage.
Heathrow hopes some airlines will respond to its request to reduce flights by consolidating their services, to enable passengers to still travel on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the airport said: “We apologise unreservedly for the disruption passengers have faced over the course of this weekend.
“The technical issues affecting baggage systems have led to us making the decision to request airlines operating in Terminals 2 and 3 to consolidate their schedules on Monday June 20.
“This will enable us to minimise ongoing impact and we ask that all passengers check with their airlines for the latest information.”
Meanwhile Gatwick announced last week that it will be reducing the number of daily flights during July and August to help tackle staffing issues.
A limit on flights has also been introduced by Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
EasyJet said: “In response to these caps and in order to build additional resilience, easyJet is proactively consolidating a number of flights across affected airports.
“This provides customers with advance notice and the potential to rebook on to alternative flights.”
The airline said it expects to be able to rebook “the majority” of passengers on to other departures, with “many being on the same day”.
EasyJet admitted there will be a “cost impact” from the disruption, and the amount of money it spends to operate each seat per kilometre excluding fuel will “exceed” previous guidance.
It said: “We believe that these capacity/cost impacts are a one-off this summer as we would expect all parties to build greater resilience in time for 2023 peak periods.”
The carrier expects its capacity between April and June to be 87% of 2019 levels, rising to 90% during the following three months.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “Delivering a safe and reliable operation for our customers in this challenging environment is easyJet’s highest priority and we are sorry that for some customers we have not been able to deliver the service they have come to expect from us.
“While in recent weeks the action we have taken to build in further resilience has seen us continue to operate up to 1,700 flights and carry up to a quarter of a million customers a day, the ongoing challenging operating environment has unfortunately continued to have an impact, which has resulted in cancellations.
“Coupled with airport caps, we are taking pre-emptive actions to increase resilience over the balance of summer, including a range of further flight consolidations in the affected airports, giving advance notice to customers, and we expect the vast majority to be rebooked on alternative flights within 24 hours.
“We believe this is the right action for us to take so we can deliver for all of our customers over the peak summer period in this challenging environment.”