A (tenuous) link between the Pope and easyJet

Last Monday, 11 February, Pope Benedict announced his retirement and the last departing easyJet flight took off at about 1am next day.

That Monday was pretty chaotic in Geneva because of the heavy overnight snow. I was pleased to see that the airport web site put some information on their web site (but the site was not always easily reachable). After the many cancellations and delays there were more flights than usual taking off late (it is takeoffs which generate the most noise!). A close look reveals four takeoffs after 11 pm: not surprisingly, all easyJet. However, only one was really late: the flight EZY8477 to London Gatwick, which took off at 0h58. As such, it must have been given a special permission by the airport.

A look in detail at the day's history for the aircraft which took off so late is quite interesting. It was an Airbus A320, registered in the UK as G-EZTB, which had arrived in Geneva at about 5h30 pm from Gatwick, only 30 minutes late. In normal circumstances it would have flown back to Gatwichk shortly afterwards.

So why did it not go straight back? Well, easyJet Switzerland had a flight EZS1345 scheduled to go to Rome at 3h10 pm, for which they needed an A320 (lots of passengers!). However, mainly because they have no reserve A320 in Switzerland (their reserve aircraft is a smaller A319), they had not been able to operate that flight. Perhaps the Pope's announcement made it vital to go to and from Rome with a full A320, so they used the UK A320 to go to and from Rome.

To cut a long story short, G-EZTB went to and from Rome as the easyJet Switzerland flights EZS1345/1346, arriving back in Geneva at 15 minutes before midnight. By the time that the Rome passengers had disembarked, the aircraft cleaned and refuelled and the Gatwick passengers embarked, the flight to Gatwick could take off only just before 1am the next day.

The airport authorities will probably invoke the snow as the reason (even though the airport operated relatively normally after the morning snow was cleared). Their reason will eventually be put on the gva.ch web site (which still has no information for any movements after 0h30 this year!), and I will read it with interest.

However, a more detailed study of easyJet aircraft in Geneva shows that two A320s of easyJet Switzerland had arrived back in Geneva well before G-EZTB came back from Rome. Since Swiss aircraft often operate easyJet UK flights, and vice versa, I wonder why one of these was not used to go to Gatwick much earlier than the UK aircraft. It could then have been recuperated quite soon as a flight back from Gatwick, whilst the UK aircraft could have operated for a short while from Geneva!

No doubt there is a very good reason why such a simple solution could not have been operated!

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