The low-cost British airline easyJet finally reached an agreement with Airbus to postpone the deliveries of 24 A320neo and A321neo that were expected between 2020 and 2022. The order for 107 aircraft, which its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou wanted to see canceled, is still pending.
Ten aircraft deferred in 2020, twelve in 2021 and two in 2022: this is what easyJet said it managed to obtain from Airbus in a press release published on April 9, 2020. As a result, no new aircraft should be acquired in 2021. 24 leases could also be deferred or canceled in the coming months, adds the airline.
“Our industry is facing unprecedented challenges which require unprecedented action. As we have consistently said, we remain completely focused on improving short term liquidity and reducing expenditure across the business,” Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO said, adding “today I am pleased to announce that we have agreed with Airbus to amend our delivery schedule by deferring the purchase of 24 aircraft, providing a significant boost to our cash flow and a vast reduction to our near-term capex programme.” The fleet plan should be presented in more detail on April 16.
With record-low demand due to the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic, easyJet had to immobilize its entire fleet of more than 300 Airbus A319 and A320 from March 30, 2020. In this context, founder and shareholder, Stelios Haji-loannou, qualified the easyJet order for 107 Airbus aircraft as “the largest single threat to the solvency of the company”. Instead, he argues that the airline should scrap its fleet expansion and start reducing staff.
The businessman, who owns 34% of easyJet shares and was criticized for receiving €67 million in dividends in March 2020, has threatened to remove a non-executive director of the board every seven weeks until the order is canceled. While the order is still pending, one of the requests expressed by Haji-Ioannou has been granted: a general meeting should take place to address the situation. The destitution of non-executive director Andreas Bierwirth and financial director Andrew Finlay is expected to be discussed.