easyJet has reported a strong financial recovery from the pandemic but is struggling to meet passenger demand due to staff sickness.

easyJet bookings at 2019 levels

easyJet is claiming a strong recovery as they come out of the other side of the pandemic, with summer bookings now exceeding pre-Covid levels. Meanwhile, the airline has been expecting a pre-tax loss of around £550 million for the past six months. To put that into perspective, that’s £3 million lost every day between October 2021 and March 2022.

EasyJet are seeing demand return to pre covid levels at Gatwick airport
easyJet are seeing demand return to pre-coronavirus levels | © Chris Ratcliffe

Despite this, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren remains optimistic the airline will recover well from its financial difficulties, stating:

“We remain confident in our plans which will see us reaching near 2019 flying levels for this summer and emerge as one of the winners in the recovery.”

Lundgren’s sunny outlook comes from the increased trading figures the airline has seen since the UK government decided to ease Covid measures in January.

“easyJet’s performance in the second quarter has been driven by improved trading following the UK government’s decision to relax testing restrictions with an extra boost from self-help measures which saw us outperform market expectations.

Lundgren said, adding:

“Since travel restrictions were removed, easyJet has seen a strong recovery in trading which has been sustained, resulting in a positive outlook for Easter and beyond.”

easyJet was flying at 80% of its 2019 capacity in March and expects this figure to increase to 90% by the end of June.

Covid Woes

It’s not all plain sailing, though; the same restrictions that have given the airline such a boost in the last few months may also hinder them going forward. The financial statement that boasts of their economic recovery also mentions “ongoing challenges from Covid-19”. “ongoing” perhaps is appropriate. The same day the statement was released, the airline cancelled 32 flights from its home base in Gatwick airport, affecting around 5,000 travellers.

EasyJet and British airways are facing staff shortages
easyJet are not the only ones who’ve had trouble with crew absences due to Covid | © Trevor Hannant

The airline has been struggling with staff illness since it decided to drop the mask requirement on some of its flights three weeks ago. In the past two weeks alone, the carrier has cancelled over 1,000 flights, though they note that this only represents 6% of total capacity. Other UK airlines have also suffered staffing issues, with British Airways reporting high levels of employee absences due to Covid.  Even abroad, airlines have been struggling to hire enough staff to meet the surge of leisure travellers the industry is currently experiencing. JetBlue announced this week that they would be reducing their summer schedule to avoid flight disruptions from understaffing.

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