EasyJet, the UK budget carrier, said on March 30 that it had grounded its entire fleet after it finished repatriation flights. The coronavirus health crisis is bringing the global travel industry to a standstill.
The company confirmed that it has worked out an agreement with cabin crew who are set to receive 80% of their pay under a government program. EasyJet is currently looking for viable ways to access more cash. The company affirmed that it has a strong balance sheet and no maturities until 2022.
Its official statement reads:
“As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, EasyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft. We are in ongoing discussions with liquidity providers who recognize our strength of balance sheet and business model.”
The carrier added that a restart of scheduled flights is still not clear, and government restrictions and demand will influence it.
Governments Urged to Step In
Alexandre de Juniac, International Air Transport Association chief, urged world governments this march to offer airlines emergency loans and cash bailouts. He alleged that the virus spread could result in losses of up to $113 billion in airline revenues globally.
EasyJet grounds its fleet just ten days after it paid a £174 million dividend to shareholders, including to its founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou – days after it called for a state loan to enable them to survive. Around 33% of the cash went to Stelios.
The company has its largest base in London Gatwick, and it serves up to 159 airports and 1,051 routes. Additionally, it employs 9,000 UK-based staff, including 4,000 cabin crew.
EasyJet said that the grounding measures would remove high financial costs as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand due to the outbreak of the pandemic.