EasyJet insists its operations have “normalised” but chief executive Johan Lundgren warned “some industry challenges” would continue through this summer.
Speaking as easyJet reported a loss of £114 million for the three months to June chiefly due to the costs of disruption, Lundgren said: “We have a stable operation now. The easyJet operation has normalised.
“Over this weekend [July 22-24] we operated 5,000 flights and only two were cancelled in France due to technical reasons.”
However, Lundgren warned: “We continue to expect some industry challenges this summer.”
He argued: “We see this as a one off through the summer. I feel more confident about the things in our control. But it’s difficult to say there won’t be disruption going forward.”
Lundgren explained: “Air traffic control remains a problem. If you have a shortage of air traffic controllers it only takes one or two not to show up because of Covid and there are flow restrictions on arrivals into airports.
“Then you have to make a judgment – if you send an aircraft is it going to come back because of the hours’ limits on crew?
“In some cases, just one person going sick leads to flow restrictions. You can’t plan for this. You can have more crew on call to cope with it, but you can’t plan.”
He added: “There is an increasing level of Covid. We’ve seen strikes and we’ve had weather-related events. You can’t do anything if a patch of Luton airport’s runway melts.”
Lundgren argued: “It’s meaningless to start pointing fingers. There is no one in the industry not feeling the squeeze on this. There is no one who hasn’t felt the pressure.
“It’s not one sector that hasn’t been delivering, it has been tough on all fronts. There is not any part of the chain that has not felt the pressure.”
Yet he insisted customers “can book with confidence”, saying: “We are running at 2019 levels of performance. “We’re not complacent, but we’re confident the actions we’re taking are working.”
Asked if he agreed with airports ordering carriers to cut back capacity, he said: “It’s better an airline goes through its capacity and assesses what it can deliver than have people disappointed on the day [of a flight].
“Airlines need to make that decision. It’s not what we want, but I would rather that.”
Asked if he would like the government to issue temporary visas to EU airport workers to address staff shortages in the UK, Lundgren said: “That is not something the government is inclined to do.
“Bringing in EU workers would help, of course. It would relieve the pressure. But this is not unique to the UK. We see difficulties at airports across Europe. It’s also not unique to the aviation sector.”
Lundgren dismissed speculation that his position is under threat because of the disruption easyJet has suffered, insisting this was “a nonsense story made up by a competitor”.