easyJet’s Flight Fiasco Leaves 180,000 Holidaymakers Stranded

“EasyJet Faces Air Traffic Control Delays and Grounds Thousands of Flights at Gatwick Airport”
easyJet's Flight Fiasco Leaves 180,000 Holidaymakers Stranded

EasyJet has informed 180,000 passengers that their flights in July, August, and September have been grounded due to “unprecedented” air traffic control delays. The budget airline blames these delays, which it says are three times longer than before the pandemic, for the cancellations. While 95% of affected travelers have been rebooked on other easyJet flights, 9,000 passengers are currently without a replacement. However, passengers have complained about easyJet’s rebooking process, with some being switched to different departure dates. Under European air passengers’ rights rules, those whose flights are canceled should be offered a flight on the original day of travel if seats are available on any airline.

One passenger, Jenny Chan, had her journey from Glasgow to Marseille disrupted after easyJet rebooked her on a one-stop journey that was rendered impossible due to the airline moving the second leg a day earlier. Passengers who accept a rebooking to a different date can claim additional accommodation and meal costs from easyJet. The Independent has also seen cases where travelers have been booked on connecting flights with easyJet through other European airports, but they are entitled to a direct flight if one is available on any carrier.

EasyJet’s decision to launch a seat sale on Monday has received criticism on social media, with some travelers expressing their reluctance to book flights with an airline that cancels so many flights. The cancellations by easyJet will reduce availability and force fares higher for those who have not yet booked their summer trips. The airline insists that it is fully crewed and has more pilots and cabin crew flying than ever, but Gatwick has been hit by air traffic control delays. On Saturday alone, easyJet grounded over 40 flights to and from Gatwick, affecting more than 6,000 passengers. On Sunday, dozens more departures were canceled, including flights to popular Spanish holiday airports.

The pressure on Gatwick, the world’s busiest single-runway airport, is felt particularly by easyJet, which accounts for around half of the airport’s movements. Since June 28, the daily late-evening easyJet departure from Gatwick to Palma de Mallorca has been canceled more often than not. EasyJet has made some adjustments to its flight schedule at Gatwick to mitigate the impact of external challenges on the day of travel for customers. The airline has rebooked 95% of affected customers onto alternative flights and given all customers the option to rebook or receive a refund.

Aviation veteran Paul Charles, CEO of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, has warned that the UK airport infrastructure, along with people shortages at airlines and ground handlers, cannot cope with the high demand this summer. He emphasizes the need for airlines to improve planning and delivery to avoid letting customers down at short notice. The scale of easyJet’s cancellations could result in the airline losing future summer slots at Gatwick, as permissions to take off and land are awarded on a “use it or lose it” basis. However, last summer, the government allowed airlines to retain slots despite many cancellations.

In conclusion, easyJet has grounded 180,000 passengers’ flights due to air traffic control delays, causing inconvenience and stress for travelers. While the majority of affected customers have been rebooked, some passengers have raised concerns about the rebooking process. The cancellations will also impact availability and fares for those yet to book their summer trips. EasyJet maintains that it is fully crewed but has made adjustments to its schedule at Gatwick to mitigate the impact of external challenges. The airline’s actions may result in the loss of future summer slots at Gatwick, which are awarded on a “use it or lose it” basis.