British low-cost carrier Easyjet announced on Monday that it would reduce its transport capacity this summer due to acute staff shortages to avoid the chaos at airports seen in recent weeks, while Ryanair tries to rescue injured travelers.
“There will be a price for the impact” of these measures, Easyjet warns without further detail, although it reiterates that the medium-term prospects remain “attractive”, according to a press release. The group also notes that bookings remain “strong,” with those for the fourth quarter being similar to pre-pandemic fiscal 2019.
The British carrier is now forecasting carrying capacity at 87% of fiscal 2019 levels for its staggered third quarter ending June 30, up from 90% projected up to that point.
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This equates to 140,000 flights for 22 million passengers and 550% of capacity for the same period in fiscal 2021, when pandemic-related restrictions were still paralyzing most traffic. In the fourth quarter ending Sept. 30, transportation capacity is expected to be around 90% of fiscal 2019 levels, up from 97% previously.
“Unprecedented” acceleration of traffic
In view of the “unprecedented” increase in traffic in the first half of 2022 due to the lifting of health restrictions, “air traffic in Europe is facing operational difficulties”, mainly due to a serious shortage of staff, which is leading to delays and series cancellations, Easyjet explains.
“A very tight labor market for the entire sector, including cabin crew, and ever-increasing “identity verification” times” for applicants for aviation jobs are hampering efforts to speed up the supply, she adds.
“This is reflected in the recently announced flight restrictions at two of our largest airports, Gatwick in London and Amsterdam,” said Easyjet. Notably, Gatwick announced on Friday that it would cap the number of daily flights in July and August to avoid a repeat of the chaos at airports in recent weeks.
On Monday, another London airport, Heathrow, asked airlines operating from its Terminals 2 and 3 to reduce their Monday flight schedules by 10%, affecting nearly 30 flights and 5,000 passengers, a spokeswoman said.
At the moment, however, this is a request and not an obligation, says the airport, which apologized flatly for the enormous problems with luggage delivery this weekend for travelers who sometimes had to wait several hours due to a lack of ground staff to pick up their luggage.
Ryanair on the hunt
Easyjet believes it will be able to fly most affected travelers on alternative flights, “many on the same day as originally booked”, and promises to notify customers in advance.
Low-cost competitor Ryanair, which is trying to rescue travelers who have fallen victim to flight cancellations, said it launched 200 extra flights from 19 UK airports to Europe on Monday. “While British Airways, Easyjet and TUI are canceling thousands of flights, disrupting British families’ holiday plans, Ryanair is operating over 15,000 flights a week and has added over 1,000 for July and August,” the British company added, according to a press release.
Easyjet’s action fell 2.84% to 424.60p around 13:30 GMT on the London Stock Exchange and Ryanair’s fell 0.76% to 11.88 euros in Dublin. Sophie Lund-Yates, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, notes that “these plans will prolong the (post-pandemic) recovery for Easyjet”, with “huge” costs of ramping up service. However, she notes that “the trend is positive and the demand for travel is there.”
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