Thousands of furious easyJet customers are facing major disruption after the airline axed 1,700 flights from its main base of Gatwick. Some passengers were told so last minute, they were actually sitting on the plane waiting for take off.
Around 180,000 passengers have had their flights cancelled at the last minute, with flights scheduled for July, August and September grounded. The reason given was ‘unprecedented’ air-traffic control delays due to short staffing at Air Traffice Control.
Currently, there are approximately 9,000 customers without an alternative route, after the company said it had booked 95 percent of travellers on replacements.
One passenger recounted her experience:
‘We had been watching the number of delayed flights on the board in Palma rising and thought we had got lucky with our flight.
‘But just minutes before we were due to board we were told there would be a 30-minute delay which turned into an hour.
‘Then once we had boarded the pilot suddenly appeared to tell us there was going to be a second delay of 40 minutes or so. He said that the problem was down to air traffic control being short-staffed and having to spread out the flights due into Gatwick so they could cope.
‘Everyone was pretty frustrated – we were all tired and there were families with small children on board. But it seems like we might have been among the lucky ones.’
A spokesperson for easyJet told The Independent:
“We are currently operating up to around 1,800 flights and carrying around 250,000 customers per day and like all airlines, we review our flights on an ongoing basis.
“As Eurocontrol has stated, the whole industry is seeing challenging conditions this summer with more constrained air space due to the war in Ukraine resulting in unprecedented ATC [air-traffic control] delays, as well as further potential ATC strike action.
“We have therefore made some pre-emptive adjustments to our programme consolidating a small number of flights at Gatwick, where we have multiple daily frequencies, in order to help mitigate these external challenges on the day of travel for our customers.
“Customers whose flights are affected are being informed, with 95 per cent of customers being rebooked onto an alternative flight and all customers provided with the option to rebook or receive a refund.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused.”
Your rights when your flight is cancelled
According to European air rules, passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to travel on any other airline that has seats available on the original day of travel, at easyJet’s expense.
Passengers whose flights are grounded with less than two weeks’ notice are also entitled to cash compensation of £220 (or £350 for flights over 1,500km), unless easyJet can rebook them on a flight with similar arrival times.
More information is available at easyjet’s help page