EasyJet says it could ground the “majority” of its fleet owing to the coronavirus crisis, while boss Johan Lundgren has called for government intervention to help the European aviation sector “survive”.
The carrier said in a Monday trading update (16 March) “unprecedented” travel restrictions and “significantly reduced” levels of customer demand had already forced easyJet to make sweeping cuts to its flight programme.
“These actions will continue on a rolling basis for the foreseeable future, and could result in the grounding of the majority of the easyJet fleet,” said the airline.
EasyJet will operate rescue flights for short periods, where possible, to repatriate customers.
It has also pledged to take every possible action to “remove cost and non-critical expenditure” from the business “at every level”.
“Aircraft groundings will remove significant levels of variable costs,” said easyJet.
The airline insists it maintains a strong balance sheet with a £1.6 billion cash balance, a $500 million credit facility, aircraft worth in excess of £4 billion, and a “large and valuable slot portfolio”. It also has no debt refinancing due until 2022.