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EasyJet Gains EU Okay To Acquire Lisbon Airport Slots From TAP

By Dave Simpson

British low cost carrier EasyJet EZJ.L has won EU antitrust approval to acquire 18 daily slots at Lisbon airport from Portuguese airline TAP as part of the latter's rescue plan agreed with EU regulators last year.

"EasyJet has now priority to conclude with TAP Air Portugal the agreement for the slot transfer that will allow easyJet to expand its operations at Lisbon airport and offer new flights as of 30 October 2022," the European Commission said in a statement.

Under the €3.2 billion rescue plan, TAP which is 72.5% controlled by the Portuguese state, was forced to reduce its fleet size, cut more than 2,900 jobs and reduce wages.

BRIEF-Easyjet CEO Says Airline Facing Challenges Across Europe

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The above news was followed by the following brief:

  • CEO SAYS WE RECOGNISE NEED FOR AIRPORTS TO IMPOSE CAPS
  • CEO SAYS HAVEN'T DECIDED EXACT NUMBERS OF CANCELLATIONS FOR Q4
  • CEO SAYS CAPS WILL HAVE IMPACT AT GATWICK AND AMSTERDAM, BUT CHALLENGES ACROSS ALL OF EUROPE
  • CEO SAYS THE VAST MAJORITY OF CUSTOMERS WILL BE ACCOMMODATED O THE SAME DAY
  • CEO SAYS WE ARE NOT STRUGGLING TO RECRUIT, STRUGGLE IS GETTING SECURITY CLEARANCE
  • CEO SAYS WE ARE WAITING 14 WEEKS FOR ID CLEARANCE VERUS10 WEEKS PREVIOUSLY
  • CEO SAYS AIRCRAFT DELIVERY SCHEDULES ARE NOT AFFECTED BY AVIATION SECTOR ISSUES
  • CEO SAYS THIS WILL HAVE A MATERIAL IMPACT ON OUR COSTS BUT WE CAN'T QUANTIFY IT AT THIS STAGE
  • CEO SAYS BREXIT IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON OUR STAFF RECRUITMENT
  • CEO SAYS DEMAND CONTINUES TO BE STRONG, DON'T ANTICIPATE FARES WILL BE IMPACTED BY SCHEDULE CHANGES

EasyJet Cuts More Flights To Try To Manage Disruption

All of the above news was followed by news that low-cost airline easyJet EZJ.L said on Monday 20 June that it was cutting thousands more flights this summer after London Gatwick and Amsterdam airports reduced capacity and it battled staff shortages on the ground and in the air.

The British carrier said it expected to fly approximately 90% of its pre-pandemic capacity in July, August and September, down from the 97% it had scheduled last month, which would have been approximately 160,000 flights.

EasyJet said a tight labour market for crew, compounded by a 14-week wait for new staff security checks compared to around 10 weeks previously and limitations on European hires due to Brexit, had reduced its resilience further.

London's Gatwick airport, where easyJet is the biggest carrier, said on Friday it would limit flights because of labour shortages.

Amsterdam's Schiphol, another major base for the airline, has also imposed a cap, leading to a 16% cut in planned flights during the peak season.

EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said reducing the schedule now would minimise last-minute cancellations that had a bigger impact on customers.

"It is necessary to build further resilience into the flying schedule this summer by proactively cancelling a number of flights, providing customers with advanced notice and rebooking options," he told reporters.

European airlines and airports shed thousands of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them unprepared to cope with a resurgence in demand after restrictions were lifted.

Lundgren said easyJet would make the cuts shortly. Gatwick and Amsterdam would be a focus, he said, but there were also operational problems across Europe, including in Paris and Geneva.

He said the airline had recruited more crew than ever before for the summer but security checks were holding up deployment.

He said a "huge amount" of applications were coming in, but the carrier could not accommodate all the EU workers it had before the pandemic. It had turned "down a huge number of EU nationals (...) because of the situation after Brexit".

Bigger problems, he said, were staff shortages on the ground and air traffic control restrictions, resulting in aircraft not returning to base and crew stuck in the wrong place.

He said there would be a cost impact, including from booking customers on other carriers on occasion, but he could not quantify it at this stage. The airline has not set financial guidance for the year.

Shares in easyJet, which are trading at 20-month lows, were down 3% in early deals on Monday 20 June.

Spain-Based Cabin Crew At EasyJet Plan July Strike

All of the above news was followed by news that Spain-based cabin crew at easyJet EZJ.L plan to go on strike for nine days in July to demand higher pay from the budget airline, local union USO said on Tuesday 21 June, potentially adding to travel woes as the sector struggles to cope with rebounding demand.

Workers will walk out on 1-3, 15-17, and 29-31 July, Miguel Galan, general secretary of USO's easyJet section, told reporters on Tuesday 21 June.

The airline' flight attendants in Spain are demanding a 40% increase in their basic salaries, he said.

The basic salary, which excludes bonuses and extra pay, stands at €950 for easyJet's Spanish staff, which is much lower than in countries such as France and Germany, Galan said.

"The company underestimated the outlook, was more pessimistic and conservative and is not ready for the demand… this generates a domino effect on us," Galan said.

Still, the union, which says it represents 80% of the 450 staff based in Spain, still hopes an agreement can be reached to avoid the strike during a meeting with management on Tuesday, Galan said.

Pent-up travel demand after two years of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is stretching airlines and airport operators, causing staff shortages and long queues in terminals all over Europe.

Rising consumer prices and tough working conditions are pushing staff at many airlines in the region to protest and walk out.

Cabin staff at easyJet's larger rival Ryanair RYA.I plan to go on strike this month and in July in Spain and several other countries.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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