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Thursday, Sep 29, 2022

Gatwick cancels easyJet flights at last minute after declaring 'business as usual'

Gatwick cancels easyJet flights at last minute after declaring 'business as usual'

Apologising for the latest inconvenience to passengers, the London hub blamed the disruption on late-notice absence in its air traffic control tower.
Airport staff sickness has led 26 easyJet flights to and from Gatwick to be cancelled at the last minute.

Apologising for the latest inconvenience to passengers, the London hub blamed the disruption on late-notice absence in its air traffic control tower.

The scratching of the flights coincided with Gatwick posting its half-year results in which it had declared a return to "business as usual".

Tens of thousands of holidaymakers jetting abroad this summer have been affected by cancellations and delays at UK airports in the face of staff shortages as the industry has struggled to cope with the surge in demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 26 flights cancelled, 13 were departures.

A Gatwick spokesperson said: "At 07:00, restrictions were put on the number of flights that can arrive into Gatwick due to late notice staff absence in the airport's control tower.

"Some flights throughout the day may unfortunately be delayed or cancelled as a result.

"Gatwick would like to apologise for any inconvenience this will cause to our passengers."

It came as the airport said it would not need to extend existing restrictions on passenger numbers beyond the end of August after it ramped up security staffing to reduce delays.

Gatwick also said it had provided personnel to support other airport operators, including airline baggage handlers, as part of the push to improve performance.

The airport had introduced capacity limits in June after workforce shortages had caused overcrowding, huge queues and
flight disruptions.

The ending of the cap contrasts with its larger London rival, Heathrow, which announced last week that it would continue to curb capacity until the end of October to tackle travel problems.

This has triggered further widespread cancellations and will also hit school half-term getaways.

Publishing its half-year results, Gatwick said strong demand for overseas destinations had "fast-tracked" the airport's recovery from the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis and reported a return to profit in the first six months of this year.

The operator now expects 32.8 million passengers this year, up from 6.3 million in 2021, but warned this prediction could be hit by runaway inflation, which is pushing up costs and making people cut back on luxuries.

Numbers would also still be down from 46.6 million in 2019, before the pandemic.

Revenue reached £291.5m in the six months, while post-tax profit hit £50.6m.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: "The unprecedented growth in traffic led to short-term operational issues in June, however, our decisive early action to limit the airport's capacity in the crucial school holiday period of July and August has ensured passengers have experienced reliable flight timetables over the summer months.

"We are now very much operating business as usual and do not see any reason to extend the capacity declaration."

He added: "We still have some considerable way to go, but strong demand has fast-tracked Gatwick's recovery from the pandemic, particularly in the last quarter since all UK travel restrictions were removed.

"Air traffic volumes have reflected this strong passenger demand and have bounced back to around 75% of pre-Covid levels.

"Despite some broad economic uncertainty, we are also looking forward to a successful second half to the year, with new, exciting airlines and routes coming on stream and continuous improvement in the high service standards Gatwick is known for."
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