Passengers of easyJet were told their flight home was cancelled while they were waiting to take-off as the airline battles with thousands of cancellations and delays.
Andy Samu was travelling to easyJet’s Sussex-based headquarters from Budapest before the captain announced that the flight would be cancelled while they were sat in their seats.
Around 180,000 passengers have had their flights scheduled for July, August and September grounded as a result of ‘unprecedented’ air-traffic control delays.
Currently, there are approximately 9,000 customers without an alternative route, after the company said it had booked 95 percent of travellers on replacements.
One passenger told MailOnline how their flight home from Croatia was cancelled with just four hours notice.
Passengers have shared photos of queues headed to hotels at 2am (credit: @andysamu)
There are approximately 9,000 customers without an alternative route, after the company said it had booked 95 per cent of travellers on replacements (credit: @andysamu)
Susan Richards, who was on a family holiday in Dubrovnik, famed as the setting for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, said their flight home was cancelled with little warning and they were now having to stay until Tuesday night, in a hotel paid for by the airline.
She continued: ‘There was a poor lady alone with a 14-month-old baby absolutely distraught at our hotel unable to get home. It’s unbelievable!’
Meanwhile, passenger Sally Roberts said she is currently ‘stuck in Turkey’ with her family.
Ms Roberts said that their scheduled flight was delayed for hours until passengers were eventually taken to a hotel.
She told MailOnline: ‘We have no information on what is happening, no one at the hotel speaks English, given two small cartons of water, nothing else nothing to eat.’
‘There are people at the hotel that have now spent two nights. They were taken back to the airport yesterday to then have to leave the airport again.
‘At the moment we have no idea how they are going to get everyone on this 16.15 flight.’
Eric Ramswell, 81, had his flight home to Gatwick from Larnaca cancelled via text message just a ‘few hours’ before takeoff.
‘There were no reps of EasyJet there, no-one at the airport had any information at all,’ he told MailOnline.
‘I managed to phone easyJet, who were sympathetic to a degree, said they’d phone back, but didn’t! Eventually I phoned our friend in Paphos, (over 100 miles away) and took a cab there (180 euros!), stayed the night and rebooked from Paphos airport. Even with this plane, we sat in on the runway for one hour.’
The captain of one Sunday evening flight to Gatwick from Palma in Mallorca came out of his cockpit to apologise to passengers personally.
The already behind-schedule service was blocked from taking off for another 40 minutes by Gatwick air traffic control while they sat on the tarmac.
He told the packed flight of tired Brits that flights bound for the London airport were being throttled at source because it did not have enough staff to track the normal number of flights and was having to spread out scheduled services over a longer period of time.
It is understood that the airline has been suffering problems for up to a week.
Holidaymakers are bracing for a summer of chaos due to air traffic control delays, which are three times longer than pre-pandemic levels.
An easyJet spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We are currently operating up to around 1,800 flights and carrying around 250,000 customers per day with more crew and pilots flying than ever before and like all airlines, we review our flights on an ongoing basis.
‘As Eurocontrol has stated, the whole industry is seeing challenging conditions this summer with more constrained air space due to the war in Ukraine resulting in unprecedented ATC delays, as well as further potential ATC strike action.
‘We have therefore made some pre-emptive adjustments to our programme consolidating a small number of flights at Gatwick, where we have multiple daily frequencies, in order to help mitigate these external challenges on the day of travel for our customers and we continue to operate around over 90,000 flights over this period.
‘Customers whose flights are affected are being informed, with 95 per cent customers being rebooked onto an alternative flight and all customers provided with the option to rebook or receive a refund. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused.’
Around 180,000 easyJet passengers have had their flights cancelled at the last minute
The airline has cited ‘unprecedented’ air-traffic control delays for the disruption, saying they are three times longer than pre-pandemic levels
Aviation veteran Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy, told the Independent: ‘I’ve been warning for some time that our UK airport infrastructure, along with continuing people shortages at airlines and ground handlers, cannot cope with the massive summer demand.
‘Just when you thought you had secured a flight to your summer holiday paradise, it gets changed and causes more inconvenience and stress.
‘Airlines have to get better at planning and delivering, not letting down customers at short notice. EasyJet aren’t the first and won’t be the last to take such action this summer.’
Over 40 flights to and from Gatwick were cancelled on Saturday alone, leaving more than 6,000 passengers affected.
Dozens more easyJet flights were axed on Sunday, which included trips to popular summer holiday destinations such as Barcelona, Malaga and Alicante.
A number of passengers had their flights cancelled over the weekend while they were stood waiting at the gate.
Neither Ryanair nor Jet2 made any flight cancellations at London Stansted airport over the weekend, further fuelling rumours that easyJet is understaffed.
Meanwhile, easyjet’s rivals at Gatwick cancelled just eight flights between them in comparison.
Disruptions from easyJet come off the back of this week’s news that European air traffic controllers have warned they will strike in a dispute over staffing levels, with unions claiming that bosses have not done enough to replace staff who retired during the pandemic.
Putin’s war in Ukraine has also had a detrimental impact on the amount of available airspace for commercial flights over the continent.
This could mean continued disruption for holidaymakers looking to take a trip to areas of eastern Europe, such as Poland.
Popular summer destinations such as Barcelona are likely to face more disruption due to air traffic control restrictions as the summer continues
Air traffic management body Eurocontrol warned that many key areas are expected to be hit by high overloads, so air traffic flow and capacity management measures will need to be taken, causing delays and flight cancellations.
There are reports that up to three in ten European flights could be at risk of delay or cancellation this summer, following the warnings from air traffic controllers.
Up to 12,600 flights a day could be disrupted as a result of the walk-outs, an industry source told The Times.
Eurocontrol warned: ‘In a full-blown strike, 20 to 30 per cent of flights would be at least delayed. They are big numbers.’
A number of easyJet passengers have received a poor service from the airline over recent months.
One passenger, Gillian Tickle, told MailOnline: ‘We came home with EasyJet on Friday. No passenger got their luggage. No luggage was on that flight. We were told by the pilot he had to offload because the runway had changed and he had to fly over a hill.
‘We were told by the pilot we would receive our luggage that night or the next day. So far no one from EasyJet has contacted us. No one met us at the airport. No luggage has arrived.’
Severe delays at Dover also occurred on Friday, with British Airways customers slamming the ‘total pandemonium’ after a systems failure rejected boarding passes.
This had a knock-on effect at the Port of Dover, with the operator saying there would be ‘strong volumes of tourist traffic’ that could add time to processing procedures at the French border.
Under European laws, which still apply in Britain, passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to travel on alternative airlines that have seats available on the same day, at the expense of the airline initially booked with.
If a flight has been grounded with less than two weeks’ notice, passengers are entitled by law to compensation of up to £350.