The airline has already cancelled dozens of daily flights at the airport in recent weeks, including some when passengers were already on board the plane.
It comes after Gatwick announced last week that it will be reducing the number of daily flights in July and August in a bid to tackle staff shortages.
A limit on flights has also been introduced by Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Why is easyJet cutting flights?
EasyJet said it wants to “build additional resilience” as the aviation sector across Europe is experiencing “operational issues”.
These include air traffic control delays, staff shortages in ground handling and at airports, and increased times for identity checks of new recruits.
It said: “In response to these caps and in order to build additional resilience, easyJet is proactively consolidating a number of flights across affected airports.
“This provides customers with advance notice and the potential to rebook on to alternative flights.”
The airline said it expects to be able to rebook “the majority” of passengers on to other departures, with “many being on the same day”.
EasyJet admitted there will be a “cost impact” from the disruption, and the amount of money it spends to operate each seat per kilometre excluding fuel will “exceed” previous guidance.
It said: “We believe that these capacity/cost impacts are a one-off this summer as we would expect all parties to build greater resilience in time for 2023 peak periods.”
The carrier expects its capacity between April and June to be 87% of 2019 levels, rising to 90% during the following three months.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren added: “Delivering a safe and reliable operation for our customers in this challenging environment is easyJet’s highest priority and we are sorry that for some customers we have not been able to deliver the service they have come to expect from us.
“While in recent weeks the action we have taken to build in further resilience has seen us continue to operate up to 1,700 flights and carry up to a quarter of a million customers a day, the ongoing challenging operating environment has unfortunately continued to have an impact, which has resulted in cancellations.
“Coupled with airport caps, we are taking pre-emptive actions to increase resilience over the balance of summer, including a range of further flight consolidations in the affected airports, giving advance notice to customers, and we expect the vast majority to be rebooked on alternative flights within 24 hours.
“We believe this is the right action for us to take so we can deliver for all of our customers over the peak summer period in this challenging environment.”
The reduced timetable comes after the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority warned airlines to review their summer timetables to ensure they are “deliverable” after thousands of passengers have been hit with cancellations and delays.
Huge queues have been reported across the UK’s major airports in recent weeks, including Gatwick, Manchester and Bristol, with some passengers forced to wait more than four hours.
Which flights are being cancelled at Gatwick?
The London airport is planning to limit its daily flights to 825 in July and 850 in August, down from a reported 900 daily flights during the same period in previous years.
The airport is yet to confirm which flights will be cancelled as part of the reduced schedule, but it said the vast majority of flights over the summer will operate as normal.
Any passengers who are affected by changes to schedules should be contacted if their flights are cancelled.
Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, said: “As has already been the case, the vast majority of flights over the summer will operate as normal, and the steps taken today mean that our passengers can expect a more reliable and better standard of service, while also improving conditions for staff working at the airport.
“I am immensely grateful to all our staff for their tireless work over the last few months to get the airport back up and running, and for helping get passengers away on their travels.”
Why is the airport cutting flights?
Gatwick said the reason for “temporarily moderating its rate of growth” for two months is to help passengers “experience a more reliable and better standard of service”.
It said the reduced number of daily flights will allow airlines to manage more predictable timetables and help the ground handling companies during the school holidays, and stressed that the vast majority of scheduled summer flights will operate as normal.
A review of its operations found that several Gatwick-based companies are continuing to operate with a severe lack of staff over the summer holiday period, and if the issue was not addressed, passengers could face queues, delays and cancellations.
Flight disruption has been affecting passengers for many months now, with the situation worsening due to a rise in demand over the half-term school holidays and the four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend.
The aviation industry said it is suffering from staff shortages after letting thousands of people go during the Covid pandemic.
During the Jubilee bank holiday week, more than 150 flights were cancelled across the UK on the eve of the celebrations. Gatwick said it operated around 800 flights a day during this week.
Mr Wingate added: “Gatwick prepared well for the restart of international travel by successfully reopening our South Terminal and we have now successfully recruited 400 new colleagues to help us process passengers quickly through security this summer.
“We are also working closely with our airlines to avoid disruption to passengers this summer, and while more newly recruited staff will start work in coming weeks, we know it will be a busy summer.
“However, it is clear that during the Jubilee week a number of companies operating at the airport struggled in particular, because of staff shortages.
“By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers – and also our airlines – to better match their flying programmes with their available resources.”
Minister suggests airport staff ‘work longer hours’
Business minister Paul Scully has suggested that one solution to airport chaos is for staff to work longer hours if they want to.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “There are a record number of vacancies – 1.3 million vacancies across the country in all manner of sectors – but there are also people who have recalibrated what they want to do when they were on furlough.
“We want to make sure that those people that are not necessarily working full time, through Universal Credit we can get them back in to work to be more productive, if that suits them, and obviously match them up with the sectors where there are those vacancies.”
Asked whether this meant people working longer hours, he said: “I’m not talking about going out forcing people to do anything, but we just want to make sure that they’re matched up properly so that it’s just that those people who can work longer – that want to work longer – can do.”