EasyJet boss: Delays in crew security checks adding to flight cancellations

Delays in processing security checks for new airline crew are increasing the number of flights being cancelled, according to the boss of easyJet.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said the airline is waiting for the Department for Transport (DfT) to give permission for around 100 new members of staff to start work.

EasyJet has cancelled hundreds of flights in recent days, mainly on routes serving Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, with British Airways also cancelling a number of flights, impacting Scottish airports.

Mr Lundgren explained this is primarily due to high levels of coronavirus-related staff absences but also blamed the time it is taking for the Government to vet new recruits.

Delays in processing security checks for new airline crew are increasing the number of flights being cancelled, according to the boss of easyJet.

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He said: “There’s this delay of the clearance from the DfT (Department for Transport) for people to get their IDs.

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“There’s a backlog there and we’re waiting currently for about 100 cabin crew to get their IDs.

“There’s a three-week delay on that. That has had an impact. If that would have been on time, we would have seen less cancellations.”

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This demonstrates that the rise in coronavirus infections has “impacted basically the whole of the UK”, Mr Lundgren said.

He went on: “I understand the DfT and the ministers are doing what they can to accelerate and speed this up – which we find very constructive – but it definitely has had an impact.”

Mr Lundgren insisted “we don’t have a shortage of crew” and it was “absolutely not” fair to accuse the airline of selling flights it could not fulfil.

“We were having in some cases up to 20% of absence, and you wouldn’t expect any airline at any point in time to be able to cover that,” he said.

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“That is unfortunate for people who have been affected but I would like to reiterate that those cancellations were made pre-emptively.

“People got notice on that in the beginning of last week. The majority of them had the opportunity to rebook to flights that we have on the same day, however unfortunate that is.

“We’re carrying up to 260,000 customers per day, so I think it’s important to put that into context.”

The airline said cancellations are being made “in advance to give customers the ability to rebook on to alternative flights”.