EasyJet has announced plans to cut more flights over the busy summer period – as it apologised to customers for failing to “deliver the service they have come to expect from us”.
The airline has blamed issues such as staff shortages in ground handling and at airports, as well as air traffic control delays for increased turnaround times, delayed flights and cancellations.
It is among a number of airlines grappling with the same problems as the industry struggles to move into the peak season after two years of coronavirus pandemic-related turbulence.
EasyJet said it is cancelling flights at Gatwick in response to last week’s announcement that the airport would reduce the number of daily flights during July and August to help it cope with a staff shortage.
A similar limit has also been introduced by Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
The airline 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’s chief executive added “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.”
In the financial quarter ending 30 June, easyJet said it plans to have operated 140,000 flights, carrying 22 million passengers.
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This means capacity will be 550% of what it was during the same period last year, when the industry globally was still affected by coronavirus restrictions.
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The airline said that the number of passengers being carried in April and May was seven times the number seen during the same months last year.
Capacity in the quarter ending 30 June is expected to be around 87% of the level seen in 2019 – the most recent year of normal travel conditions – with the quarter ending 30 September expected to be around 90%.
Last month it had said it expected to operate at 90% of 2019 capacity this quarter and around 97% in the fourth quarter.
It added: “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.”
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