easyJet from Bordeaux to Geneva via Lyon and the autoroute

The newspaper 20 Minutes last Tuesday reported on the misfortune for passengers returning from Bordeaux on 2 August.

According to that newspaper, the departure of flight EZS1373 from Bordeaux back to Geneva, scheduled to depart from Bordeaux at 9h30 pm, was delayed for reasons of weather (which I find somewhat surprising!), so that the passengers were only embarked at 11pm. There was then a technical problem which added another 90 minutes delay. As a consequence, the flight was diverted to Lyon, from where the passengers enjoyed a bus journey to Geneva, arriving at 4h30 am. As well as being annoying, this delay should permit tpe passengers to demand a financial indemnity.

To clarify one point written in the article, the airport does not close for aircraft movements at midnight: there is a permitted 30 minutes after midnight for aircraft which are behind schedule to land without needing a special derogation. As stated by the airport, there have been 13 derogations this year for landings after 0h30, all of which make reference to meteorological problems.

A closer inspection of the actual situation of easyJet Switzerland aircraft and flights that day raises a couple of interesting points. Firstly, the aircraft which left Geneva for Bordeaux as flight EZS1372 was already an hour behind schedule, having been late arriving back from Lille. This hour delay would in any case have meant an arrival back in Geneva not long before midnight. Secondly, easyJet Switzerland had another similar A319 aircraft available: one which had only flown to Bordeaux and back the same day, arriving back in the middle of the afternoon. Why could this aircraft not have been used?

In the article it is claimed that according to the airport there had only been two aircraft diverted to Lyon (this year, I suppose). In fact, however, since the beginning of this year, there have been 14 occasions when an easyJet aircraft has flown empty from Lyon to Geneva, most often (probably always) because it was diverted to Lyon the previous night.

I would entirely agree that the overall punctuality of easyJet in general, and easyJet Switzerland in particular, is now excellent. easyJet Switzerland normally has 14 Airbus A319/320 in Geneva at any one time, which they can use in cases of technical problems or the need to do a maintenance on an aircraft, or even lend one to fly an easyJet UK flight. Sometimes, however, things do not quite work out, so that a standard practice is to "reverse" a there-and-back flight. This happened last Tuesday, 6 August, when the easyJet Switzerland aircraft HB-JZP flew the easyJet UK flights Luton to Geneva and back, and Toulouse to Geneva and back, but in the reverse order. If you work this out, you can understand why the two flights into Geneva arrived well over 4 hours late, which would entitle the passengers to financial compensation.

Should passengers try to claim these compensations for arrivals more than 4 hours late, given that easyJet do make an effort on punctuality and on not cancelling flights? It is perhaps a moral judgement. However, in the case of the Bordeaux passengers arriving back in Geneva at 4h30 am, I would certainly demand this compensation.

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