EasyJet cuts more flights and sells planes after new Covid controls

EasyJet is cutting its flight schedule further after the introduction of new lockdown measures in the UK and mainland Europe, saying it will only run a maximum of 20% of planned flights for the rest of the year.

The airline said it was scaling back only days after the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced fresh Covid-19 restrictions that ban residents in England from holidaying abroad or within the UK until 2 December. EasyJet said similar lockdown measures in Germany and France were also affecting flight plans.

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The airline’s financial year begins in October and it said: “EasyJet now expects to fly no more than 20% of planned capacity for the first quarter.

“We remain focused on cash generative flying over the winter season in order to minimise losses during the first half and retain the flexibility to ramp capacity back up quickly when we see demand return.”

It comes only weeks after easyJet said it would be cutting capacity to 25% for the rest of 2020. The airline has also taken more drastic measures than the rival budget airline Ryanair, which recently said it would run about 40% of its planned capacity from November to March.

EasyJet also announced it had raised almost £131m through the sale and leaseback of 11 of its A320 planes. After the latest deal, easyJet now owns only 41%, or 141 planes, of its fleet.

The airline has been trying to raise extra cash as a second wave of coronavirus cases and resulting lockdowns threaten to put extra strain on its finances. The airline said last month that it was likely to report a loss in the range of £815m to £845m for the year to September – its first annual loss in the 25-year history of the airline.

“EasyJet will continue to review its liquidity position on a regular basis and will continue to assess further funding options, including those that exist in the robust sale and leaseback market,” the company said.

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