Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said he was frustrated at the continued uncertainty for the company and its customers amid changing COVID-19 restrictions. Tony McDonough reports
Low cost airline easyJet is following rival Ryanair’s lead by cutting capacity in the wake of new COVID-19 quarantine measures.
The carrier’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said he was frustrated at the continued uncertainty for the company and its customers and he called on the Government to offer more support for the aviation sector, including the suspension of air passenger duty (APD) for 12 months.
On Monday, the Government removed seven Greek islands from the quarantine exemption list. EasyJet says that customer confidence to make travel plans is being negatively affected by the Government changes.
In response to this reduced demand for travel, based on current travel restrictions and quarantines easyJet now expects to fly slightly less than the 40% of planned capacity for the final quarter of 2020 which was highlighted at its last trading update.
The airline said: “This is the result of continued schedule thinning as we continue to focus on profitable flying. Given the many changes to government restrictions since our Q3 update, the lack of visibility and the continued level of uncertainty, it would not be appropriate to maintain any forward looking financial guidance.”
It is not yet known how the latest changes will impact on the schedule out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Ryanair’s cuts to capacity will see the loss of 14 flights per week out of Liverpool. A spokesperson for the airport told LBN: “We are working closely with easyJet to understand their final winter programme from Liverpool.”
Mr Lundgren said: “Following the imposition of additional quarantine restrictions to seven Greek Islands and the continued uncertainty this brings for customers, demand is now likely to be further impacted and therefore lower than previously anticipated.
“We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions. We called on the Government to opt for a targeted, regionalised and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.
“It is difficult to overstate the impact that the pandemic and associated Government policies has had on the whole industry. We again call on the Government to provide sector specific support for aviation which needs to take the form of a broad package of measures.
“These include the removal of APD for at least 12 months, the alleviation of ATC charges along with continuation of the slot rule waiver. These steps will support the retention of skills in the sector – all of which would support jobs and promote connectivity.”