Luton (AP) – The crown pandemic brought British low-cost carrier Easyjet the first annual loss in its history. Prospects for winter remain bleak.
Easyjet boss Johan Lundgren has again cut the flight schedule for the period until New Year’s Eve and expects a vaccine and clear test and quarantine rules to boost demand for air travel sometime next year. The airline is talking to various governments about possible financial aid and is preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
In the last financial year until the end of September, the fall in air traffic as a result of the pandemic devastated the low-cost airline deeply. The end result was a loss of almost 1.1 billion pounds sterling (1.2 billion euros) after a gain of 349 million pounds the previous year. Easyjet published the first key data in October. In the current quarter, the airline wants to offer a maximum of one fifth of the originally planned flight schedule; In early October, the management was targeting a quarter. Lundgren declined to give an assessment for the following months in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
The crown crisis hits airlines in Britain, the country with the most corona deaths in Europe, particularly hard. In England, for example, there is currently a partial lockdown that is expected to end on December 2. British Health Minister Matt Hancock does not want to rule out that the devastating situation could prevent an extension. Each British part of the country decides its own measures to combat the pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is accused of being a bad crisis manager and acting too late and wrong to have made the crisis worse for the crown, also for airlines.
For example, corona tests are lacking in the country, even at airports. This is exactly what deters many customers from flying, Lundgren criticized. “The quarantine system must also be improved,” he told the BBC. “People want to travel.” When the first successes of the vaccines were known a week ago, according to the Easyjet boss, the reserves increased by 50 percent.
Added to this are the uncertainties following the end of the Brexit transition phase in about six weeks. Easyjet feels that it is well prepared for this, even for a no-deal, that is, the tough economic break, with the European Union. If necessary, the company wants to restrict the voting rights of shareholders from Great Britain and other countries outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This is to ensure that Easyjet is majority controlled by EU shareholders and therefore does not lose any important traffic rights.
In the last fiscal year, the number of passengers was cut in half to a good 48 million as a result of travel restrictions and collapsing demand. The second half of the financial year, which at Easyjet runs from April to September, was particularly affected. The fleet was practically paralyzed from April to June. Even after that, demand only recovered slightly before falling again in the wake of the second corona wave.
To survive what is arguably the worst crisis in the aviation industry, Easyjet has already raised £ 3.1 billion in fresh money since the pandemic broke out. Easyjet has now negotiated more time to repay funds from the British Crown aid program. The airline can now repay the sum of 600 million pounds in two halves in March and November 2021.
According to Lundgren, Easyjet is also talking to governments in other countries about possible support. Apparently this also includes Germany. “We have a strong presence in Germany, we ensured healthy competition before the crisis and we invested a lot of money in it,” said Wirtschaftswoche Lundgren in early November.
At the end of September, the company still had cash and cash equivalents of £ 2.3 billion. To restock the cash register, Easyjet sold more Airbus jets in October and early November and has been leasing them ever since. Additionally, due to falling demand, the airline is cutting about 4,500 from the previous 15,000 jobs.