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EasyJet chief operating officer resigns amid travel chaos

·3-min read
EasyJet has been grappling with an industry-wide shortage of workers, which forced it to delay or cancel thousands of flights over the key summer holiday period. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea
EasyJet has been grappling with an industry-wide shortage of workers, which forced it to delay or cancel thousands of flights over the key summer holiday period. Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea

The chief operating officer (COO) of EasyJet (EZJ.L) has quit after a string of flight cancellations, staff shortages, and strikes in recent weeks plunged the budget airline into chaos.

Peter Bellew stepped down from his role on 1 July, the company said. David Morgan, director of flight operations, has been appointed to take over as interim COO.

Bellew joined from Ryanair (RYA.IR) in 2019, prompting an unsuccessful legal challenge from the Irish airline to prevent him working for a rival. Morgan, who has been with EasyJet since 2016, previously led overall operations at the airline as interim COO in 2019.

The Luton-based carrier said Bellew will "pursue other business opportunities", but will stay on in the meantime to ensure a "smooth transition".

Read more: Travel chaos as airlines given green light to axe flights

EasyJet has been grappling with an industry-wide shortage of workers, which forced it to delay or cancel thousands of flights over the key summer holiday period.

It is also facing strikes by cabin crew in Spain amid a row over pay and working conditions.

Shares in the FTSE 250 (^FTMC) company fell 2.9% in afternoon trade on Monday in London.

The company said that it will focus on "delivering a safe and reliable operation this summer".

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: "I would like to thank Peter for his hard work and wish him well.

"I am pleased that operations will be in the very capable hands of David Morgan who can move seamlessly into this role having previously led the operation, as interim chief operating officer, throughout 2019.

"David has significant experience and deep knowledge of the business and operation and will provide strong leadership for the airline this summer."

Read more: Airline slot amnesty: will my flight get cancelled?

It comes as UK holidaymakers brace for more travel chaos as airlines have been given permission to cancel flights this summer without incurring in any fines.

Airlines are expected to announce a fresh wave of cancellations over the summer period as the government introduced an "airline slot amnesty".

Under this plan, airlines will be able to ground flights without being penalised for not using their airport slot.

This means that if a flight is planned later this summer and airlines feel they will not be able to staff it, they can cancel it without incurring fines or penalties.

However carriers must finalise their summer schedule by Friday 8 July.

Heathrow is expected to be affected the most by the cancellations as London's busiest airport struggles to cope with demand.

Meanwhile, EasyJet, which has already cancelled thousands of flights due to staff shortages at Gatwick, is expected to axe around 24 trips a day from the airport between Saturday 28 May and Monday 6 June.

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?

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