Another embarrassing day for easyJet Switzerland

Yesterday, Thursday 13 October, a lot of passengers on easyJet flights had hours of delays. The reason, as usual: no spare aircraft in Switzerland.

Madrid, Berlin and London Gatwick were airports to which passengers on particular flights had to suffer delays of several hours. Passengers to and from Nice also had a couple of unexpected shopping hours.

As usual, the reason is very simple and the consequences predictable. On Wednesday afternoon, after returning from Budapest, the Airbus A319 registered in Switzerland as HB-JZV, did not fly again. It did not fly for all of yesterday, and is still unavailable first thing this morning, Friday 14 October. Extended maintenance or a technical problem: we don't know, and will certainly not get told (that would be bad for the image of the company!).

Given the repeated official statements made (to OFAC) by the Geneva airport management that easyJet Switzerland has a spare aircraft at their disposition, this should not have had a disastrous influence on the flights. Unfortunately, this statement is essentially a public relations myth. When, like yesterday, all 12 of the Geneva-based aircraft are required to fly all day, then the absence of one of them has the local easyJet management frantically looking for solutions using UK-registered aircraft based somewhere else.

The standard solution for some time has been to locate an available aircraft at one of the destinations being served during the day, and then to have that aircraft make the incoming flight at the scheduled time, and then to go back to the destination as if it had been the earlier outgoing flight. This then results in the outgoing flight having a delay of several hours. The destinations which had this happen yesterday were (as often happens) Madrid (5h30 delay), Berlin (4h25 delay) and London Gatwick (4h15 delay).

The delays on the last evening flight to and from Nice were a bit different. easyJet Switzerland is supposed to be making Nice a base, but almost certainly does not have (m)any aircraft based there just yet. Instead, the Swiss-registered A319 HB-JZK, after returning from its fourth there-and-back rotation (from Paris), was used for the late evening Nice return trip. This is the first time that I can remember seeing a particular aircraft make 5 rotations in a day, with the return of this 5th rotation coming in over Vernier and landing at 18 minutes past midnight.

As of this morning, Friday 14 October, easyJet Switzerland has done what they should have done yesterday: bring in a UK-registered aircraft early in the morning and then have it act as an easyJet Switzerland aircraft until the "grounded" aircraft can fly again. The aircraft concerned, G-EZID, arrived at 8am from Milan (why not earlier, given that Milan-Geneva is less than 1 hour flying time?) and then went to Madrid (1h40 delay, but that delay will probably be absorbed into other flights during today).

I would be interested to know what the delayed passengers to Madrid, Berlin and London were told yesterday, what compensation they were offered and what they thought of the shopping facilities in the airport!

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