easyJet, the United Kingdom-based low-cost carrier, announced that it has grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.
The filing, issued by the airline on the London Stock Exchange, stated that the decision was made in light of the “unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries.”
While the airline was operating repatriation flights, the last of these landed on March 29, 2020. To date, easyJet has flown over 650 flights to return more than 45,000 customers from various locations, noted the statement.
“We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.”
However, easyJet was not able to provide any guidance on when the airline would resume commercial operations, as there is no certainty when the situation would get better. Its main competitors in Europe, namely Ryanair and Wizz Air, have both indicated significant stoppages in their own operations, as Ryanair does not expect to operate any commercial flights in April and May 2020. Wizz Air does not rule out grounding its fleet: as of March 23, 2020, the Hungary-based airline has grounded 85% of its aircraft for short-term or long-term storage.
On the bright side, easyJet has reached a deal with Unite the union, the airline’s UK-based cabin crew union. The company would pay 80% of the wages to flight attendants for two months starting April 1, 2020, despite its commercial operations being temporarily put to a halt. The salaries would be paid with the help of the British Government’s job retention scheme, indicated the filing.