Low-cost British airline Easyjet has announced that it will reduce its capacity this summer, as staff shortages have become more acute in recent months, the company announced in a press release.
The airline also hopes that the reduction will make their flight operations smoother. This comes as many airports ground to a standstill in May and June due to severe staffing shortages and exceptional demand for flights following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Strikes by cabin crew from low-cost airline Ryanair have also caused chaos, both in Belgium and abroad. Spanish and Belgian cabin crew are set to go on strike on 24–26 June over unfair working conditions, exacerbating already disrupted summer flight schedules.
Unclear impact on costs
Easyjet has warned of the potential cost of this decision but did not elaborate on what this might be. The airline still insists that the outlook for this summer remains “attractive.” Bookings are strong and the airline's financial performance has returned to pre-Covid levels.
Some of the planned flight restrictions had already been announced by the airline. London’s Gatwick airport and Amsterdam Schiphol airport will both limit the number of summer flights in July and August to prevent the airports from being overwhelmed during the summer months.
The airline believes that it will be able to accommodate passengers from cancelled flights by booking them on to new flights, even on the same day. Customers will be notified in advance of any flight changes.
On the back of the announcement that it would reduce its activity this summer, the airline’s shares dropped 2.4% on the London Stock Exchange.
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By cutting flight volume this summer, Easyjet is prolonging its recovery period following the pandemic. The airline has acknowledged that it is struggling to keep up with demand and has been hampered by delays in traffic control and staff shortages. This affects both the on-board crew and staff on the ground. During the Easter holidays, the airline cancelled more than 200 flights over staffing shortages.
This summer, Easyjet expects to reach 87% of its operational capacity from before the pandemic, down from previous forecasts of 90%. This year, the airline will have provided 140,000 flights for around 22 million passengers, an increase of 550% compared to the previous year.
The travel disruption this summer is enough to put many Belgians off the idea of travelling abroad. Instead, many are now choosing to vacation closer to home, booking retreats along Belgium’s coast or in the countryside of Wallonia and Flanders.