05/26/2013

easyJet: stress and a new route?

I was reported that pilots of easyJet Switzerland are exhausted. Part of the problem might be when aircraft are unavailable.


The report on the state of fatigue of easyJet Switzerland pilots appeared in Le Matin Dimanche of 19 May. The report counted 244 pilots, mostly flying from Geneva, but some from Basel, for 21 aircraft, with each pilot flying between 750 and 800 hours per year.

In fact, easyJet Switzerland has 22 aircraft, of which 14 are normally based in Geneva and 8 in Basel. The day to day operations in Geneva require 13 aircraft: those in Basel 8. This permits maintenance of the spare aircraft in Geneva: sometines this can simply be overnight, but sometimes it can be longer.

When something goes wrong, such that an aircraft cannot fly its normal set of "there and back" routes (an average of just over three for each aircraft each day), it is sometimes the case that the spare aircraft is unavailable. One of the solutions in such cases is to fly a different aircraft, of easyJet UK, without passengers to Geneva as a temporary replacement then, at the end of the day, to fly it out again. It can also happen that easyJet Switzerland are used as a replacement somewhere else, quite often Basel.

So far this month, there have been 22 such empty flights. Not very many when compared to the total number of easyJet Switzerland flights to or from Geneva each month (about 1300 return flights). However, being unexpected, they all add a little bit to the stress, but it remains true that air travel is a very safe way to travel.

However, one interesting there and back flight occurred last Friday, when an Airbus A319 of easyJet UK flew without passengers from Geneva to Bari and back again. Could this be testing out a new service from Geneva to Bari, which currently has an easyJet service to London Gatwick, Paris CDG and Milan?

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