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Coronavirus Pandemic Forces UK’s EasyJet To Grounds Entire Fleet

Coronavirus Pandemic Forces UK’s EasyJet To Grounds Entire Fleet
The very heavy hit that the global airlines are facing because of the coronavirus pandemic and the travel restrictions and national lockdowns imposed by many countries hit by the virus outbreak was reflected in the decision of British low cost airline EasyJet to ground all of its fleet of more than 330 aircraft. The airline said that it could not predict any viable time when it will be able to restart flights again.
Further about 4,000 cabin crews based in the United Kingdom will be furlough by the airline for a period of two months, EasyJet also said on Monday. The employees will not go to work from April 1st and they would be paid 80 per cent of their average salaries for the two months under the job retention scheme that was announced earlier this week by the UK government.
Air travel in Europe - the major operational market for EasyJet has come to a complete standstill because of travel restriction siring form the coronavirus pandemic which has left the airline, and other regional airlines as well, with no revenues and a struggle to survive.
An airline specific state aid package was being hoped for by many of the UK based airlines but the British government has made it clear that no aid package would be given to airlines till such time that they have exhausted all their resources, including raising capital from the wealthy shareholders. And if any package were to be given it would be decided on a case to case basis.
A host of measures to increase liquidity in the short term was being worked by it, EasyJet said on Monday, which included reducing and eliminating costs from its operations as much as possible and working with suppliers to defer and reduce payments wherever possible. While it was working to reduce expenditure on aircraft, EasyJet was also in negotiations with liquidity providers, the company said.
Significant costs gad been removed by grounding its aircraft, the airline said.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure that EasyJet continues to be well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus,” EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said in a statement.
In a separate development, a much smaller regional UK carrier Loganair said it would request the UK government to seek financial help this week after already trying unsuccessfully to raise funds form from its owners. The airline operates flights between Scottish islands and the mainland.
“I do think, that like the vast majority of UK airlines, we will be going back to take up that invite for further conversation with the Treasury in the coming days because we have to,” Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles told BBC radio.
Earlier, EasyJet said in its statement that an agreement on the furloughing of its cabin crew had been reached with Unite, the workers’ union. The airline was also holding negotiations with BALPA, the UK pilots union about a potential similar deal with its pilots, EasyJet said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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