Budget airline easyJet today announced further major cancellations due to “unprecedented” travel restrictions being imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and said most of its fleet could be grounded.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren also warned that some European airlines may not survive what could be a long-term travel freeze and the risks of a slow recovery.

“Whether it does or not will depend significantly on European airlines maintaining access to liquidity, including that enabled by governments across Europe,” he said.

Although many flights have been cancelled the airline stressed it would continue to operate rescue flights for short periods where possible to repatriate customers. It said also it was taking “every action” to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level.

easyJet stressed it has a strong balance sheet including a £1.6 billion cash balance and an undrawn £406 million revolving credit facility. It said it has no debt refinancings due until 2022 and is in ongoing discussions with lenders “who recognise our strength of balance sheet and business model”.

The company said that given the level of continued uncertainty, it is not possible to provide financial guidance for the remainder of the financial year.

Wizz, which flies between Edinburgh, Gdansk and Warsaw, said today it has suspended all its flights to and from Poland until further notice as a result of a ban on foreign flights by the Polish government. A small number of easyJet, KLM and Ryanair ‘rescue’ flights have been allowed to land.

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