EasyJet grounds entire fleet of planes because of coronavirus crisis

Budget airline unable to give a firm date for when it will restart commercial flights

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of aircraft for at least two months in response to the destruction of demand for air travel by the coronavirus pandemic.

The budget airline said it could not put a firm date on restarting commercial flights and 4,000 of its 9,000 UK staff will be furloughed initially for two months from 1 April.

Cabin crews drafted in to help at new coronavirus hospitals

The global airline industry is caught up in an unprecedented crisis, with companies laying off workers by the thousand, on the back of strict travel restrictions across most of the main air travel markets.

The almost total loss of revenues threatens the survival of many airlines. Loganair, the Scottish regional carrier, on Monday said it would be seeking government assistance beyond that offered to all British companies, despite the government’s insistence so far that it would not offer an industry-wide bailout.

Loganair’s chief executive, Jonathan Hinkles, told BBC radio: “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.”

Qatar Airways on Sunday said that it would eventually need state aid, despite being one of the few global airlines continuing to run commercial scheduled flights, mainly to allow people to return home.

EasyJet had focused on repatriating customers in recent days after travel restrictions came into force across most of its main markets. However, the last of 650 repatriation flights ended on Sunday.

Grounding the fleet removes “significant cost”, easyJet said. The move also means that furloughed staff in the UK will be paid 80% of their salaries through the government’s job retention scheme. There were separate arrangements with governments in other countries where easyJet staff are based, a spokeswoman said.

Many of the staff furloughed by easyJet, as well as Virgin Atlantic, will be drafted in to help in temporary “Nightingale” hospitals built to cope with a wave of thousands of expected coronavirus patients.

EasyJet has invited staff to volunteer for further training before helping out at the critical care field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester, while Virgin will contact 4,000 of its staff who may have the relevant skills needed to provide help.

source – guardian.com

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