Claim compensation from easyJet
In the busy Summer period some easyJet flights may be very delayed or even cancelled. There is a right to financial compensation.
On Thursday 23 July the freebie "20 minutes" told the history of passengers unable to board an easyJet Switzerland flight back to Geneva, because the aircraft in use, having come from Geneva, was an Airbus A319, instead of a planned, larger, A320. About 10 passengers accepted to fly first to Lyon (plus bus to Geneva!) and to receive 130 Euros compensation. However, there were still too many passengers to fit into the A319, so other were denied boarding: they could take an easyJet flight the following day.
Last night, 1 August, the easyJet Switzerland flights to and back from Alicante, in the afternoon, were simply cancelled. It is not obvious what options were offered to the passengers: possibly an easyJet flight via the UK (but the last flight from Gatwick to Alicante was also cancelled!).
In both cases, European Commission law allows for financial compensation of 250 Euros (flights less than 1500 km), unless the airline can claim exceptional circumstances (bad weather, strikes or some other exceptional cause). Would such a compensation be available? Even though a spokesperson of the Swiss Federal Aviation Office OFAC claimed on the radio that the Swiss have not (yet) enshrined the EC ruling, it was admitted that compensation could be claimed under the EC law via a different country.
So were the circumstances exceptional. I would claim that they were not, simply because easyJet Switzerland does not have sufficient aircraft available to cover inevitable problems of a technical nature. The details of these incidents are quite simple.
The fleet of easyJet Switzerland is composed of 13 Airbus A319 and 11 Airbus A320 aircraft, operating from Geneva or Basel. Currently the schedules for Geneva normally require 14 aircraft, whilst those for Basel require 9 aircraft. This leaves one spare aircraft, not always the same one, which might be in Geneva or in Basel. However, the spare aircraft might be temporarily unavailable for maintenance or temporary technical problems. It might also have been lent for a short time to another easyJet airport, in order to operate easyJet UK flights. It can also be that the spare aircraft happens to be an A319 but the requirement is for an A320.
For the Nantes problems, and because of the number of passenger reservations, the requirement for both the outgoing and the incoming flights was for an A320. However, an A320 used for an early departure to Marrakech had to turn around and come back to Geneva, and was then not available for most of that Thursday. With the lack of a spare A320 the knock-on effect of this was some other A320 flights delayed and no available A320 for one late flight: easyJet Switzerland chose to use just an A319 for Nantes. Although it could be claimed that the Marrakech incident was exceptional, it remains true that easyJet Switzerland should have ensured that a spare A320 was available.
Last night, August 1, was different. Just after midday the "spare aircraft", the A319 HB-JZV, was sent empty to Lyon to operate a Lyon to Lisbon and back again service, only returning in the late evening. Thus when some technical problem delayed a return from Santiago de Composite by over 4 hours, there was one too few A319 aircraft available (Murphy's law!). Result: cancel the late flights to and from Alicante (another option might have been to do the outward flight and then have the return come back to Lyon in the early hours of the morning).
My opinion on this is the following :-
1. easyJet Switzerland needs another A320.
2. It seems unfair that on the one hand, easyJet UK did not fly in a spare A320 on 23 July, yet on the other hand easyJet Switzerland helped out easyJet UK yesterday.
Knowing this, if I had been involved in any of these incidents I would be requesting my 250 Euros compensation, claiming that such incidents are inevitable without ensuring enough available aircraft to deal with them!