EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren has called for a ‘wide-ranging review’ into National Air Traffic Services and an end to the ‘misery’ air traffic control problems are causing passengers.
In a comment piece in the Mail on Sunday, Johan said: “It is completely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of passengers saw flights cancelled or delayed this summer because of air traffic control failures.
“A shortage of controllers at Gatwick Airport has plagued the travel industry and caused misery to many of our passengers.
“These problems have beset NATS since May. This cannot go on. We need reform of how NATS is regulated to ensure that all its services are robust and resilient so that UK travellers can be confident their flights will take off.”
He said flights have been disrupted on average, every three days and there have now been 40 days of delays and cancellations since May.
As the largest carrier at Gatwick, EasyJet has been disproportionately affected.
“Our customers are rightly angry – and I share their immense frustration,” he added.
“Last week, Gatwick ordered the cancellation of yet more flights. They declared that COVID sickness is the cause, when clearly it is structural understaffing. Like other airlines whose passengers have been caught up in this, we have had enough.
“And yet the mechanisms to hold air traffic control to account are simply not present or working.
“I want to be absolutely clear: I recognise that UK controllers are among the best in the world. My issue is not with them and safety is not in question – it’s the structure and resourcing plans that are letting us, and them, badly down.
“Aviation is critical to the country. Gatwick and NATS need to urgently put a resourcing plan in place to restore resilience to the operation there.
“We want to see a wide-ranging review into how NATS is structured, run and regulated so the systems and processes can be modernised.
“And it is crucial this is done now, to avoid the same issues next summer. After months of delays and cancellations, the UK public deserves better.”