The chief executive of easyJet has insisted that the great summer getaway will not be ruined, despite as many as a fifth of staff being off sick amid a wave of Covid, [object Window] hundreds of flight cancellations.
Johan Lundgren said the airline had recruited 1,100 new staff in preparation for a summer bookings surge and expects the number of flights easyJet operates to be back to near pre-pandemic levels later this year.
然而, easyJet is facing weeks of delays getting paperwork processed so new employees can start. “It is true there is a lag on vetting,“ 他说. “We have about 100 people today awaiting ID clearance from the Department for Transport. I reckon there is a delay on that of roughly three weeks. If we had some of these people in we would have seen less cancellations.
“But I know that the government and the aviation industry is looking to fast-track and speed up the process. This is for everyone who needs an ID to go airside, [包括] ground handlers and security staff.”
Lundgren said about 58 flights had been pre-emptively cancelled across its European network on Tuesday, 和 38 of those scheduled from the UK, well down on the 120 到 130 daily cancellations last weekend.
”[The number of cancellations] has halved, but that doesn’t change the fact that the crew absence levels, driven by Covid, are pretty much the same,“ 他说. “It is more the fact that resilience in the business has increased. We will continue to see these numbers come down slightly through April and we will need to monitor this.”
He said the typical absence rate among easyJet’s 8,100 crew and 4,300 pilots before Covid was about 6%, while the business had protocols in place to allow it to cope with levels of up to 14%. 然而, absence rates have been as high as 20%.
EasyJet said that despite the severe disruption to flights in the past week, it has flown 94% of the planned schedule, adding that flight volumes of about 1,500 a day were four times those of the same time last year.
“This is despite the recent increase in the number of crew testing positive for Covid-19, together with normal operational disruption such as weather and air traffic control delays,该公司表示. “We have proactively managed this in advance by making pre-emptive cancellations as early as possible, enabling the majority of our customers to rebook on to flights departing the same day.”
Lundgren said the airline had experienced a “strong and sustained recovery” since the government lifted travel restrictions on 24 一月. “We remain confident in our plans, which will see us reaching near 2019 flying levels for this summer and emerge as one of the winners in the recovery,“ 他说.
The airline is expecting to report a loss of up to £565m for the six months to the end of March, lower than the £618m forecast by analysts and the £701m loss in the same period in 2021.
Capacity in the three months to the end of June is forecast to be at 90% of pre-pandemic levels, with March at 80%.
“We continue to see strong demand for the fourth quarter (July to September), especially on leisure routes, where easyJet will be the biggest it has ever been,该公司表示. “This has been boosted by the addition of a further five aircraft-worth of slots in Greece. EasyJet will be the largest carrier into the main Greek islands this summer.”