EasyJet cuts back schedules amid summer of disruption

EasyJet has been forced to cut more flights this summer in response to the staff shortages plaguing the aviation industry, as it warned the disruption would hit its finances.

The low-cost airline on Monday said it would “proactively” cancel flights at sites where there had been significant disruption, including London Gatwick and Amsterdam, two of its biggest airports.

Both airports have introduced flight caps in recent days to try to get a grip on disruption, and give passengers advance warning of problems following weeks of last-minute cancellations.

“This provides customers with advance notice and the potential to rebook on to alternative flights,” easyJet said.

The airline did not put a number on how many flights would be lost, but said it would now fly about 87 per cent of 2019 levels in the three months to the end of June, down from the 90 per cent it forecast in May. In the following quarter this would rise to 90 per cent, down from a previous expectation of 97 per cent.

“There will be a cost impact from disruption, coupled with the enhanced resilience easyJet is putting in place this summer,” the airline said, pointing to crew costs, airport charges and leasing of new aircraft to cope with demand.

Shares in the carrier were down 4 per cent in early trading on Monday.

The airline’s actions underline how the peak summer season has gone wrong for many carriers and airports as passenger numbers pick up following the pandemic, thanks to staff shortages across the interdependent web of companies in the aviation industry.

The pre-emptive flight cuts mirror those of British Airways, which cancelled 10 per cent of its summer flight schedules in early May, and has since suffered less disruption.

“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,” easyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said.

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