easyJet is cutting more flights this summer because of the staff shortages that are continuing to plague the aviation industry.
Images of long queues at airport security checks and check-in desks, plus news of delays and cancellations, have become commonplace in recent weeks in Europe, with the industry struggling to rehire fast enough and restore operations following two years of pandemic-related travel restrictions.
The British low-cost airline said air traffic control delays, airport and ground handling staff shortages were resulting in increased aircraft turnaround times and delayed departures, in turn leading to flight cancellations. Meanwhile, two of the budget carrier’s biggest airports, London Gatwick (LGW) and Amsterdam (AMS), have introduced flight caps this summer.
“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,” easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren announced in a trading update on June 20, 2022.
“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,” he added.
It means that easyJet’s third quarter capacity, for the months of April, May and June, will now be 87% of pre-pandemic levels, against a previous plan for around 90%. Fourth quarter capacity, for the prime summer months of July, August and September, will be 90% of 2019 levels, down from a previous plan for 97%.
Lundgren apologized to customers for the disruption seen over recent weeks.
“While in recent weeks the action we have taken to build in further resilience has seen us continue to operate up to 1700 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,” easyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren commented in the update.
Reflecting the challenges for airlines and airports this summer, the announcement from easyJet came on the same day that a national strike in Belgium resulted in Brussels airport calling a halt to outgoing flights.
The disruption, plus moves to lease additional aircraft, will result in additional costs for easyJet this summer, meaning it will exceed the cost guidance it previously gave.
“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 airline said.