EasyJet pilots warn travel ‘disruption hasn’t even peaked’ in leaked letter

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EasyJet cancelled at least 23 flights to or from Gatwick on Tuesday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)
EasyJet cancelled at least 23 flights to or from Gatwick on Tuesday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)

EasyJet pilots have warned airline executives that disruption across its network hasn’t “even peaked yet” amid surging demand.

The letter to airline executives, written by the easyJet branch of the French SNPL pilots union, warned of a “frightening scenario” in the coming weeks as passenger numbers continue to increase.

The letter, obtained by The i, read: “Literally hundreds of employees in distress have fed back how chaotic our operations have become recently, to unprecedented levels.

“We are actually convinced that our disruption hasn’t even peaked yet and frankly this is a frightening prospect.”

With further flight cancellations expected, the letter told chief executive, Johan Lundgren, that a full summer schedule is not possible with fewer planning officers, cabin crew and flight crew members.

On Sunday, easyJet was forced to cancel 80 flights and a further 13 just 24 hours later, while the airline said it expects to cancel approximately 30 flights a day amid ongoing challenges in the sector.

The main cause of flight cancellations has been the large number of staff who were cut as a result of the pandemic.

Airlines UK, said airlines have cut an estimated 30,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic, while thousands of roles were also cut from airports and aviation support roles.

Brexit has also made it harder for companies to recruit staff from the continent which has come in conjunction with staff strikes, IT failures and bad weather across Europe.

While further travel chaos is expected, the four-page letter also aimed criticism at the airline’s Integrated Control Centre in Luton, which they claim delayed cancelling flights until the eleventh hour, despite knowing that the required crew numbers were not available.

Claiming the ICC was “lagging hours behind” operations, the letter added: “We have seen some cancellations which were avoidable: crew ready to go, serviceable aircraft, passengers ready, but the ICC does not have the local picture.”

In addition, the letter claims the mental health of the staff is now at risk, although the airline does offer mental health services.

In conclusion, if the issues stated are not resolved, the pilots warned customers will stop using the airline.

A statement from easyJet addressed the claims, saying: “Delivering a safe and reliable operation for our customers and crew is the airline’s highest priority.

“EasyJet continues to operate up to around 1,700 flights and carry around a quarter of a million customers every day.

“However, the ongoing challenging operating environment continues to have an impact which is resulting in a small proportion of flight cancellations.

“We are absolutely focused on our daily operation and continue to monitor this very closely and will not hesitate to take action as needed.”

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