EasyJet grounded its entire fleet of aircraft this morning as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.


The Luton-based airline’s portfolio of 344 planes will remain on the ground, which is said to “remove significant cost” while the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand.


The company has worked with union Unite to agree two-month furlough arrangements for cabin crew which means that crew will be paid 80% of their average pay through the Government job retention scheme. The deal will be effective from Wednesday.


In a statement, the airline said: “As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, EasyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.”


The budget carrier completed its final rescue flight on Sunday, adding that there can be “no certainty of the date for the restarting flights.” 


“Over recent days EasyJet has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning home more than 45,000 customers.


“The last of these rescue flights were operated on Sunday March 29. We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.


“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”


EasyJet said on Monday that the decision to ground its planes “removes significant cost” – adding that the group “maintains a strong balance sheet”.


The airline said it had worked “collaboratively” with the Unite union to reach the deal over cabin crew.


The arrangement, effective from Wednesday, will see staff paid 80% of their average wage through the government’s job retention scheme for two months.


Chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “I am extremely proud of the way in which people across easyJet have given their absolute best at such a challenging time, including so many crew who have volunteered to operate rescue flights to bring our customers home.


“We are working tirelessly to ensure that easyJet continues to be well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus.”


The news comes as EasyJet cabin crew could join doctors and nurses in staffing the new Nightingale hospitals built to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has said.


EasyJet staff have been invited to volunteer at the new 4,000-bed clinic being built at the Excel centre in east London, and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester.


Their salaries will continue to be paid by EasyJet. 


Image: EasyJet media centre

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