EasyJet flies into 1st annual loss on Covid-19

LONDON • EasyJet plc expects a pretax loss of up to £845 million (RM4.56 billion) for its fiscal year just ended as coronavirus travel restrictions slam passenger demand, the British no-frills airline said yesterday.

It forecast a loss for the year to Sept 30 of between £815 million and £845 million, adding that its flight capacity should reach only about 25% in the final three months of 2020.

Updating on EasyJet’s first-ever annual loss, CEO Johan Lundgren urged the UK government to do more to support the country’s ailing aviation sector.

“At the beginning of this year, no one could have imagined the impact the pandemic has had on the industry,” Lundgren said in yesterday’s trading update.

“Aviation continues to face the most severe threat in its history and the UK government urgently needs to step up with a bespoke package of measures to ensure airlines are able to support economic recovery when it comes.”

Lundgren added of the 25-year- old airline: “This year will be the first time in its history that EasyJet has ever made a full-year loss.”

The carrier grounded its entire fleet on March 30 as Britain went into a lockdown, returning to the skies with only a very limited schedule in the middle of June.

As a result, EasyJet is axing up to 4,500 jobs, or almost one-third of its staff, mirroring moves by airlines worldwide.

“Removing cost from the business is a key management priority and will position EasyJet to emerge from the pandemic in an even more competitive position for the long term,” it said yesterday.

“At this stage, given the continued level of short-term uncertainty, it would not be appropriate to provide any financial guidance for the 2021 financial year,” it added.

Like other airlines, EasyJet had been expecting to salvage at least part of the summer before renewed travel restrictions across Europe quashed any hopes of an immediate recovery in demand.

The airline will trim back its schedule over the slow winter season, offering only 25% of its normal capacity.

EasyJet said passenger numbers for the financial year just ended slumped by half to 48 million. — AFP