Britain’s biggest budget airline has cancelled around 100 flights, mostly due to high levels of Covid infections among staff.
About 15,000 passengers booked on holiday departures to and from many of easyJet’s biggest airports have been seeking alternative flights.
In the first wave of flights from its biggest base, Gatwick, easyJet grounded six departures before 6am on Saturday – to all three of Spain’s Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza), plus Brindisi, Split and Alicante.
From Manchester, there were short-notice cancellations to Copenhagen, Corfu and Mykonos.
At Luton, where easyJet has its HQ, flights to Milan, Paris and Palermo were axed.
One passenger at Liverpool John Lennon airport tweeted: “No direct flights to Alicante today from Liverpool and the only direct flight from Manchester doesn’t have enough seats left.”
She asked The Independent: “Are we able to book with another airline for tomorrow and claim the costs back?”
While easyJet has been offering seats on its own flights, the Civil Aviation Authority insists that passengers should be able to reach their destination as swiftly as possible – with an airline that cancels a flight obliged to buy tickets on rival carriers.
In addition, easyJet must pay cash compensation of either £220 or £350 per person (depending on whether the journey is less or more than 1,500km) for flights cancelled as a result of staff shortages.
The obligation applies except in the small number of cancellations for which weather was responsible.
An easyJet spokesperson said: “With the current levels of sickness we also decided to make some cancellations in advance which were focused on consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day.
“Unfortunately it has been necessary to make some additional cancellations today. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights.
“Customers have been contacted and provided with their options which include rebooking onto an alternative flight or receiving a voucher or full refund. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
While most carriers are operating at below pre-pandemic levels, easyJet has planned its biggest-ever schedule from Gatwick.
The airline has already pre-emptively cancelled a number of flights on Sunday, including departures from the Sussex airport to Menorca, Nice and Preveza in western Greece.
British Airways has cancelled more than 100 flights on Saturday from its main base, Heathrow.
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