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Easyjet cuts more flights to try to manage disruption

easyjet results
EPA-EFE/OMER MESSINGER

Low-cost airline easyJet EZJ.L said on Monday it was cutting more flights in the busy summer period to help manage problems including shortages of ground staff and flight caps at London Gatwick and Amsterdam.

The British carrier said it now expected its capacity to be around 87% of 2019 levels in the quarter to end-June, and around 90% in the fourth quarter to end-September, adding that there would be a cost impact from the disruption.

Last month it had said it expected to operate 90% of 2019 capacity this quarter and around 97% in its fourth.

It said a very tight labour market for crew, compounded by increased security check times for new staff, had reduced its resilience further.

Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said the airline was sorry it had not delivered the service customers had come to expect.

“While in recent weeks the action we have taken to build in further resilience has seen us continue to operate up to 1,700 flights… a day, the ongoing challenging operating environment has unfortunately continued to have an impact which has resulted in cancellations,” he said.

The airline is cutting flights now to cope with the airport caps and to make its schedule more resilient, reducing the need for same-day cancellations, Lundgren added.

Shares in easyJet, which are trading at 20-month lows, were down 3% in early deals.

European airlines and airports shed thousands of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them unprepared to cope with a resurgence in demand after restrictions were lifted.

EasyJet said its April and May passenger numbers were seven times higher than in the same months last year.

London’s Gatwick airport, where easyJet is the biggest carrier, said on Friday it would limit flights because of continuing labour shortages.

It capped flights at 825 a day in July and 850 in August to avoid chaos and combat same-day cancellations. It usually operates about 900 flights on peak days in August.

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