EasyJet says most passengers will fly on scheduled days as Gatwick cuts capacity | easyjet

EasyJet has insisted it will get the vast majority of its passengers away this summer on the day they booked, after Gatwick was accused of panicking airline customers by announcing capacity cuts.

Flights currently on sale and scheduled will exceed the new limits on almost one in two days across July and August at London’s second airport, suggesting about 500 cancellations in total.

Airlines said they were still reviewing schedules and could not be sure how the enforced cancellations would affect them, leaving many booked holidaymakers uncertain about their travel plans.

The cap will be on most days exceeded around the start of the school holidays in late July, with flights currently scheduled to peak around 25 July, according to data from the analysts Cirium. However, only about 14 further departures may need to be canceled out of more than 400 due that day.

In the past month, easyJet has already quietly canceled almost 100 flights that were due to depart from Gatwick in the first week of the school holidays, according to data from aviation analysts OAG.

The move was announced by Gatwick on Friday to attempt to head off more chaos and last-minute cancellations, after hundreds of flights were scrapped at late notice during half-term by airlines.

Gatwick said it was limiting flights to 825 a day in July and 850 in August to force airlines into “more predictable and reliable flight programs” for the summer holidays, when staffing issues would not be resolved at many aviation companies.

While regulators and business groups have called for more certainty and urged airlines to cancel earlier rather than risk more turmoil for passengers, consumer groups criticized the handling of the announcement.

Which? blamed the “drip feeding” for fueling further alarm. Rory Boland, the Which? Travel editor, said: “It certainly wasn’t sensible to make this announcement without first agreeing with airlines operating from Gatwick which flights would be cancelled.

“Passengers with trips booked are now in a panic about whether their flight will be one of those disrupted. The airport should have worked with airlines to confirm and communicate all changes to customers first, as this drip feeding of information is hugely unhelpful.”

An easyJet spokesperson said: “Given the high frequencies of our services to and from Gatwick, we expect to be able to re-accommodate the majority of customers whose flights are affected by the cap.”

British Airways said: “Like other airlines we are working closely with Gatwick airport to ensure our customers can continue to travel with certainty.”

Ground handling, including check-in, aircraft turnaround and baggage handling, remains a huge area of ​​concern, with outsourcing companies struggling to serve airlines at airports such as Gatwick and Manchester.

The Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority told the industry this week to ensure that flights on sale were “deliverable”, and called on airports to set up working groups with airlines and ground handlers to minimize the risk of summer disruption.

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John Grant of OAG said that the Gatwick cap reflected a process that was under way as airlines such as easyJet took stock: “Airlines are proactively canceling flights. Gatwick’s announcement is a reflection of action already being taken.”

Grant said that few passengers should see existing bookings affected by the airport’s move now, but added that: “What happens beyond here is at the mercy of Covid and other events.”

A spokesperson for Manchester and Stansted airports said that they would not be following suit. Thousands of Heathrow flights were pre-emptively canceled by BA in April through to the end of the summer to ensure resilience, as it became clear that labor shortages and a bottleneck in security clearances for new hires were causing problems throughout the industry.

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