Covid-19

COVID-19

Surging Covid-19 cases force easyJet to cancel UK flights over staff shortages

An EasyJet plane (top), taxiing on the tarmac during the opening of BER Berlin Brandenburg Airport in Schoenefeld, Germany, 31 October 2020 (reissued 27 January 2021). EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN / POOL

LONDON, April 4 (Reuters) - A renewed surge of Covid-19 in Britain has forced airlines including easyJet < EZJ.L> to cancel hundreds of flights in recent days as staff sickness levels soar.

England dropped all its coronavirus restrictions earlier this year, including a legal requirement to self-isolate when testing positive and the need to wear masks in public places.

Cases started to surge in Britain near the beginning of last month and by the end of the March 26 week, one in 13 people were believed to be positive with the virus, the highest figure since the pandemic began.

While hospitalisation levels are well below previous peaks in 2020 and 2021, companies are reporting disruption to services, including at airports.

EasyJet cancelled more than 200 flights at the weekend and said around 60 would be cancelled on Monday. British Airways ICAG.L also made a small number of cancellations on Sunday and said the issue was affecting airlines and airports in general.

EasyJet said it had appointed standby crews to soften the impact, and said when cancelling routes it would consolidate flights where it had multiple options.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights,” it said in a statement. “Customers have been contacted and provided with their options which include rebooking onto an alternative flight or receiving a voucher or full refund.”

People testing positive for Covid-19 no longer need to self-isolate according to the law but most companies are advising them to do so. Free tests for the public are also no longer available.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by William James)

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