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EasyJet to cut more flights amid travel chaos

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
Passengers board a plane as EasyJet restarts its operations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at Gatwick Airport, in Gatwick, Britain June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
EasyJet has been one of the worst hit by recent disruptions. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

EasyJet (EZJ.L) is cutting thousands of flights this summer as it grapples with severe staffing shortages that have caused delays and cancellations.

The budget airline said it is reducing capacity to 90% until the end of September, after flight caps were announced at London Gatwick and Amsterdam airports.

That suggests about 11,000 easyJet flights could be scrapped over the coming months.

EasyJet had previously expected to run about 97% of its pre-COVID flights between July and September.

Initial estimates suggest that the carrier will have cut more than 4,000 flights in the three months to June and plans to cut more than double the number during July, August and September. The precise number of cancellations is still being worked out.

The airline, which is one of the worst hit by recent disruptions, pointed to problems such as air traffic control delays and staff shortages in ground handling and at airports, shortages of staff including cabin crew, and delays getting IDs approved so new hires can start.

Read more: Flight cancellations: Government plans to slash compensation for UK trips

The airline said it is “proactively consolidating” a number of flights across airports affected by the travel chaos.

EasyJet was trading down about 3.5% on Monday as investors processed the news of more flight cancellations.

EasyJet says it expects to rebook the majority of customers on alternative flights, with “many” being on the same day as originally booked for.

Johan Lundgren, EasyJet chief executive, said cutting flights will "increase resilience" over the summer, after the airline fell short for some passengers.

"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,” he said.

Read more: Flight delays: airline passengers waiting up to 5 years for compensation

"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."

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "EasyJet has caused chaos and distress for passengers over several weeks with a constant stream of last minute cancellations. While reducing the number of flights it operates may be the most sensible option in delivering a more reliable service over the summer, it yet again leaves passengers panicking about whether their flight or holiday will be cancelled or delayed.

"The summer holidays are just around the corner, so EasyJet must immediately provide clarity on which flights are being cut.

"Crucially, it needs to start playing by the rules and rerouting its customers, including on flights with other carriers — that's the legal requirement and the very least the airline can do for customers it has left in a mess."

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?

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