EasyJet grounds all its planes as UK airline industry grinds to a halt

EasyJet has grounded its fleet because of lack of demand for air travel during the coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic.

It has not been able to give a definite date for a return of its services, saying in its official statement “there is no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.” At the moment its website is still taking bookings for May although all its April slots are marked as sold out.

As of 1 April 4,000 of its 9,000 UK staff have been given leave of absence, or furloughed, with 80 per cent of their salaries to be paid through the UK government's job retention scheme. EasyJet employees in other countries will have different arrangements.

EasyJet has been concentrating on repatriating British citizens from abroad in the last couple of weeks, but now the peak of that emergency is almost over.

It has run 650 rescue flights, returning 45,000 customers home. The last one was on 29 March but it has said that it will cooperate with the government if there is a need.

EasyJet has 331 planes and in normal times services 159 airports and 1,051 routes. 

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The company has asked its cabin staff, many of whom are trained in first aid, to volunteer for work in the new critical care hospitals opening up in specially adapted sites in Birmingham, Manchester and London. 

The Scottish regional airline Loganair, which connects many of the remoter areas of mainland Scotland and the northern islands, has said that connectivity of these places will be impossible to maintain without government help. The company is still carrying people, medicines and supplies to the 15 islands it connects with mainland Scotland but it has already grounded half of its fleet.

The government was considering a special meeting to plan for the airline industry's future two weeks ago but this has not yet materialised.

Ph: Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock.com

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