easyJet passengers and staff treated 'with complete disregard'
Abandoned in Croatia, easyJet passenger shares his holiday nightmare story as Unite stages easyJet protests over regional base closures
easyJet’s boundless appetite for shareholder profits over the interests of their loyal workforce and passengers knows no bounds.
On Monday (August 18), the airliner confirmed plans to close regional bases at Newcastle, Stansted and Southend Airports, resulting in the loss of nearly 700 jobs.
Both customers and workers feel abandoned by the airliner which, despite pleading poverty amid the coronavirus crisis, still paid out £174m to shareholders.
easyJet customer Simon Fitzgerald and his daughter were in fact very literally abandoned by the airliner after Simon’s flight back from a holiday in Croatia to Stansted Airport was cancelled following Monday’s announcement.
Simon flew out on Sunday (August 17) with his daughter to Dubrovnik for a much-needed holiday. When he arrived at the airport, easyJet made no mention of the impending announcement on Monday and allowed Simon and his family to board the flight as scheduled – knowing full well that they would not have a flight home.
Scheduled to return on September 1, Simon and his family would learn via email that their flight was cancelled — according to easyJet because of “events beyond [the airline’s] control”.
With no returning flights on easyJet, Simon managed to secure a flight to Heathrow with British Airways, two days after his scheduled return.
“I estimate that I will be at least £1,000 worse off and we are just one family,” Simon noted. “I have had to arrange accommodation, plus I will have other expenses such as meals, the travel from Heathrow to Stansted, additional car park charges, not to mention the stress and anxiety the whole situation has caused us.”
easyJet announced proposals to close its bases at multiple regional airports earlier this month before announcing a final decision on Monday (August 17) and so both Simon and Unite suspect that the airline knew full well that many holidaymakers would be left without flights home.
“To send people like me on holiday in the absolute knowledge that they would leave us totally stranded in the midst of the current pandemic situation is completely unscrupulous and playing Russian roulette with people’s lives,” he said.
Simon said that later, after being contacted by a customer service representative to fill out an online claim form, he saw an online sale on easyJet’s website – and the representative said he hoped his family would decide to travel with them again.
“Are they serious? If someone stopped you in the street, punches you in the mouth, and steals your wallet and watch, you would hardly pop around theirs for afternoon tea any time you met them again.”
Unite regional officer Lindsey Ollivery said Simon’s story was “yet another example of the hardship the company’s decisions are having on customers and crew alike.
“Loyal staff and passengers have been treated with a complete disregard,” she added. “If an airline flies someone to a destination with a return flight booked they should have a moral duty to ensure their return.
easyJet has now said they will refund Simon and his daughter travel and expenses after Simon contacted Unite and his story appeared in the Mirror.
The union continues to fight for passengers and the easyJet workforce, most recently in demos held today (August 20) at Stansted and Southend Airports.
Unite campaigners will unfurl a banner which reads “Easy Option Taken” in reaction to the company’s announcement this week confirming the closure of the regional bases.
Olliver said, “This was an extremely disappointing announcement by easyJet. These job losses will bring hardship and misery to cabin crew and local communities.
“This is a cruel blow for the passengers of these regional airports as they are vital for regional connectivity.
“The loyal and dedicated workers at easyJet are the innocent victims of the company’s desire to make cuts to boost profits but also of the government’s failure to provide sector specific support to the aviation sector,” she noted.
“The chancellor promised sector support for aviation in March and that still has not been delivered,” she added.
“As a minimum, a form of the job retention scheme must be retained to protect sectors such as aviation, which have been most affected by the pandemic.
“If the government fails to act then an ever growing number of aviation workers face needlessly losing their jobs.”
Watch out for more coverage on today’s demos later.
By Hajera Blagg