Low-cost airline will resume two routes out of Liverpool on June 15 but says it doesn’t see customer demand returning to pre-crisis levels until 2023. Tony McDonough reports
Up to 4,500 jobs are at risk at easyJet as is looks to restructure its business following the coronavirus crisis.
As the low-cost airline, which operates more than 30 routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA), gets set to resume flights in June, it said it doesn’t see demand returning to pre-crisis levels until 2023.
Just two of its routes out of LJLA, to Belfast and the Isle of Man, will resume on June 15 as it looks to emerge from the lockdowns imposed across Europe during the past few weeks.
But full recovery is set to take two to three years and easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said it was looking to reduce the size of its aircraft fleet and cut staff number by up to 30%, which would equate to 4,500 people.
Her explained: “We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long term.
“We remain focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term health and success, following the swift action we have taken over the last three months to meet the challenges of the virus. Although we will restart flying on June 15, we expect demand to build slowly, only returning to 2019 levels in about three years’ time.
“Against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases. As a result, we anticipate reducing staff numbers by up to 30% across the business and we will continue to remove cost and non-critical expenditure at every level.
“We will be launching an employee consultation over the coming days. We want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic an even more competitive business than before, so that easyJet can thrive in the future.”
As announced last week, easyJet will resume flying on June 15, servicing a small number of routes where it believes there is sufficient customer demand to support profitable flying. The initial schedule will comprise mainly domestic flying in the UK and France.
Further routes will be announced as customer demand increases and government restrictions across Europe are relaxed. It says booking trends on the resumed flights have been “encouraging”, and the demand indications for summer 2020 are improving, albeit from a low base.
Bookings for winter are well ahead of the equivalent point last year, which includes customers who are rebooking coronavirus-disrupted flights for later dates.
The company said it expects its year end 2021 fleet size to be at the bottom end of the fleet range at around 302 aircraft, which is 51 aircraft lower than the anticipated fleet size for year end 2021.
EasyJet has signed two term loans totalling £400m, with both loans maturing in 2022 and secured against aircraft assets. It has also successfully issued £600m of Commercial Paper through the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) as well as fully drawing down on a $500m revolving credit facility, secured against aircraft assets.