05/12/2011

Stay the night in Berlin!

Yet again, an easyJet night flight from Berlin to Geneva cancelled. Why is Berlin so much in disfavour and does it bode ill for the Summer?


The easyJet Switzerland flight EZS1593 to Berlin yesterday, 11 May, left Geneva at 2h43 pm, 7 minutes early, taking off at 2h53 pm. However, the return flight EZS1596 from Berlin, due back at 10h35 pm, was cancelled. This is something which has happened rather often in the past, so the circumstances are worth investigating.

The aircraft concerned, the Airbus A319 registered as HB-JZN, should normally have followed the itinerary Geneva-Berlin-Basel-Berlin-Geneva. It is one of a very small number of occasions that an easyJet Switzerland aircraft does not do simple there-and-back flights (known as rotations). A check of the flights of this aircraft, via the Web site flight24.com, shows that the aircraft did indeed go to Berlin, then to Basel. However, at Basel it was rerouted to do a round trip to Barcelona and back to Basel. This meant that it was too late to do the two final legs from Basel to Berlin and then to Geneva. In the absence of any spare aircraft, this meant that these last two legs were simply cancelled, the aircraft staying in Basel overnight and then coming back to Geneva empty the following morning.

It is clear that something unusual must have happened in Basel, resulting in the unavailability of whatever aircraft ought to have done the Basel-Barcelona round trip, and that the management of easyJet Switzerland took the decision to cancel the Basel-Berlin-Geneva flights and retain the Basel-Barcelona round trip, using HB-JZN.

We have no idea of the reasons for this decision. It is at least to be hoped that the passengers on these cancelled flights were compensated correctly: probably the case, since the Swiss aviation authority OFAC is currently investigating 14 airlines, including easyJet, over complaints that the European directives on passenger compensation are not always being adhered to.

The regrettable aspect of all this is that there is clearly no spare easyJet Switzerland aircraft in Basel, nor in Geneva, at the moment. This appears to be a fact unknown to the Geneva airport management, who have repeatedly stated that there is a reserve aircraft.

Almost one year ago, in June 2010, I warned the Geneva airport management that the data on night flights, in particular easyJet, suggested that problems were likely during the Summer. Regrettably, no-one took any notice of the warning and the Summer was a disaster for many easyJet passengers and for residents living around the airport. If nothing changes between now and the start of the holiday season in a few weeks time, we could be in for a repeat of Summer 2010.

If that does happen, don't say that I didn't warn you!

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