After weeks of last-minute cancellations to and from London Gatwick airport, easyJet has cut 1,700 departures in advance over the summer.
Britain’s largest low-cost airline has taken drastic action in an effort to get schedules back on track and reduce the number of flights canceled while passengers are waiting at the gate.
Most of the notices, affecting 180,000 passengers, were sent out over the weekend of July 8-9. That same weekend, easyJet again grounded dozens of Gatwick flights in time. short.
The purpose of eliminating the schedule – the equivalent of about 24 flights a day – is to increase resilience. The airline blamed severe congestion of air traffic control (ATC) systems across Europe for its problems.
Most passengers have been notified and rebooked on other easyJet flights, but around 9,000 passengers may have to find seats on other airlines.
These are the key questions – and the answers.
What is the problem?
As easyJet passengers hoping to fly from Gatwick to Belfast and from Budapest to Sussex found out on Sunday night, the airline has struggled to maintain its promised schedule at this summer’s biggest facility. . Both flights were canceled while passengers were waiting “airside”.
Typically delays accumulate during the day, with the fleet eventually going “out of time” and unable to legally complete the trip. That sequence of events has been repeated hundreds of times over the past few weeks on easyJet flights to and from Gatwick.
The carrier frankly blamed the “unprecedented” air traffic control delay, which it said was three times longer than it was before the pandemic.
EQUAL independence As reported, the pan-European air traffic regulator, Eurocontrol, is warning of high overcrowding at some regional control centers during the peak summer months.
Challenges are heightened by the war in Ukraine, which has closed large amounts of airspace over Eastern Europe and increased pressure on routes through the Balkans, affecting flights to popular airports. in Greece and Turkey.
To further complicate an already complicated picture, several air traffic control strikes are at stake.
In addition, Gatwick is also the busiest single-runway airport in the world. With a little delay in the system, delays in arrival and departure can add up quickly.
Do other Gatwick airlines have the same problem?
Are not. Over the weekend, for example, easyJet made about five times more cancellations than all other Gatwick carriers combined. The low-cost carrier points out that, with about half of the seats at Sussex airport, it is much more prone to disruption than other carriers.
The same pattern applies to British Airways at Heathrow when factors such as bad weather interfere and cause problems at the world’s busiest two-runway airport.
But critics point to a lack of resilience. On Monday 10 July, for example, easyJet canceled 30 flights to and from Gatwick before 7am – before delays started to mount. They also show cancellation rates on Ryanair and Jet2 to and from London Stansted, another busy airport: the rate is usually zero, unless air traffic controllers go on strike.
So how does easyJet solve the problem?
The airline said it had made “several prioritization adjustments to our program, consolidating a small number of flights at Gatwick, where we have multiple daily frequencies”. Purpose: “To help mitigate these external challenges on travel day for our customers.”
That amounts to 1,700 easyJet departures in July, August and September. That’s roughly the number of flights easyJet operates across Europe in a single day.
At the time of the cancellation, 180,000 passengers were booked on affected easyJet flights. Of these, the airline says 95% have been rebooked on alternative easyJet flights – 9,000 remaining unbooked.
What are passenger rights?
Fortunately, the rights of the 9,000 passengers who currently have no alternative flights are clear. In accordance with European regulations on air passenger rights, an easyJet passenger whose flight has been canceled has the right to travel on the original date of departure on any other airline with a seat on that flight, at the expense of easyJet.
Passengers whose flights are canceled with less than two weeks’ notice may be entitled to £220 cash compensation – or £350 for flights over 1,500km. The only way easyJet can deny a claim is to rebook the passenger on an arriving flight closer to the original time.
The exact rules: if you are notified of the cancellation less than a week before departure, your replacement flight must depart no earlier than an hour earlier than the original time and arrive less than two hours before departure. after the planned landing.
If you are notified of the cancellation one to two weeks, the replacement flight must depart no more than two hours in advance and arrive less than four hours after the original scheduled arrival time.
When an airline gives a cancellation notice at least two weeks in advance, it is not required to compensate – but is still obligated to rebook passengers on suitable alternative flights.
Affected travelers can accept a full refund – including a return flight if only one sector is cancelled.
What does easyJet say?
An airline spokesperson said: “We currently operate approximately 1,800 flights and carry approximately 250,000 customers a day and like all airlines, we are constantly reviewing their flights. me.
“As Eurocontrol has stated, the entire industry is seeing challenging conditions this summer with more limited space due to the war in Ukraine leading to unprecedented ATC [air traffic control] delays, as well as further potential ATC attack action.
“Customers with affected flights are being notified, with 95% of customers being rebooked for an alternative flight and all customers being given the option to rebook or receive a refund.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
I haven’t been notified of the cancellation, but is it still possible?
independence understand that all messages from the current type list are gone. The majority of easyJet passengers booked from Gatwck will not be affected and the flight reductions are aimed at making operations more flexible.
However, with air traffic control delays across Europe appearing to be three times worse than pre-pandemic, and some industrial action underway (next Saturday for example). Italian airline employees), there is always the risk of more cancellations.
Also, when inclement weather hits Gatwick and Heathrow, all bets are off. So yes, there is still the risk of canceling at short notice, as with any airline at any time.
I booked a package holiday using easyJet flights. What are my rights?
Those who have booked flights and accommodation in the same transaction benefit from both the European Air Passenger’s rights rule and the Package Travel Regulations – the latter making the tour operator (tourist company). schedule) is responsible for providing the trip as booked. In many cases, the best solution is for the tour operator to buy you a new flight from another airline and our operator should discuss the options with you.
independence However, understand that some online travel agents who sell packages are insisting that travelers should settle the matter with the airline. If that happens to you, see if the agent has sent you an easyJet booking code (called a “locator”) – seven letters/numbers starting with E or K. If yes, you will You can log into easyJet.com and see what the airline offers.
I was rebooked for another day…
independence understand that about 10 percent of affected passengers, or about 18,000, have been moved to another date. If easyJet does not have a seat available on the day a traveler originally booked the flight, it must – if the passenger requests it – buy them a ticket from any other airline with available seats. The UK Civil Aviation Authority insists on this.
If a traveler chooses to accept the change, then in accordance with European airline passenger rights regulations, easyJet must also pay for any additional accommodation costs as well as meals taken while awaiting departure.
What do tourism industry leaders say?
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive officer, Advantage Travel Partnership, says independence: “This is really disappointing at a time when summer vacation is so precious to so many people.
“As always, if you book through a reputable travel agent, you will have access to expertise that will help you rebook any flight elements of a package that has been cancelled.”
Paul Charles, veteran aviation expert and managing director of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Just when you think you’ve got a flight to your summer paradise, everyone Things changed again and caused more inconvenience and stress.
“Airlines have to plan and deliver better, not letting customers down in the short term.”
Didn’t easyJet do the same thing last year?
Yes, the airline made thousands of cancellations in Gatwick between June and September 2022 as the airline industry struggled to recover to scale post-pandemic.
British Airways even canceled many flights to and from London Heathrow, its main base. Both airlines are allowed to keep their precious arrival and departure slots despite the cancellation, but that concession may not be repeated.
What will this do with ticket prices this summer?
By removing a large number of seats (more than 300,000) from the market during peak season, easyJet has significantly reduced supply. With no sign of a drop in demand, fares will only increase – to the benefit of all competing airlines, including easyJet.
Any other problems?
Yes: scammers set up impersonated Twitter accounts. With so many passengers looking to contact easyJet on social media, the bad guys are collecting tweets and replies from similar accounts. They respond and ask for your details. The only legitimate account is @easyJet.