Britain’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, has been blamed for “unprecedented ATC [air-traffic control] disruption” due to the large number of canceled flights so far this summer.
Announcing improved profit figures for the three months from April to June, the carrier also said air traffic control strike days were running 40 percent of the last “normal” (pre-pandemic) year, 2019.
Last week, The Independent revealed that the airline canceled 1,700 flights to and from its main hub, London Gatwick, in July, August and September.
Around 180,000 passengers with confirmed seats on the ground departure routes were affected, and 300,000 seats were taken out of the summer market.
The aim of the move was to stabilize the operation. Over the past few weeks, hundreds of easyJet flights to and from Sussex airport have been cancelled, often late into the evening.
The problem became so significant that scammers moved in, taking passengers’ details on Twitter and trying to defraud them.
The carrier’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “We are fully focused on mitigating the impact of the challenging external environment on our customers and flying them on their well-earned holidays.”
Average revenue per seat for the three months between April and June was 24 per cent higher than a year earlier, easyJet reported – rising from £46 to £57.
Mr Lundgren said around half of easyJet’s fares currently on sale were under £50.
“Despite the end of travel restrictions and falling fuel prices, the airline industry still faces major challenges, highlighted by EasyJet’s recent decision to cancel 1,700 flights in July, August and September,” said Ruth Griffin, leisure partner at law firm Gowling WLG.
“Ukraine has restricted airspace due to the ongoing conflict causing problems with flight routes, and the possibility of further air traffic control strikes in Europe will add to the turbulence felt across the sector.”
A planned strike by staff working for EasyJet’s Gatwick ground handler, DHL Supply, has been put on hold while Unite union members vote on an improved pay offer.
Workers employed by three other ground handlers at Gatwick are still threatening to strike from 28 July.