EasyJet slumps to first annual loss amid pandemic
EasyJet has reported its first annual loss in the airline’s 25-year history as the coronavirus crisis continues to affect the travel industry deeply. The airline posted a loss of £1.27bn for the year to 30 September as revenues more than halved.
EasyJet added that it expected to fly at just 20% of normal capacity into next year. The pandemic has hit airlines hard, with lockdowns and restrictions cutting the number of people travelling.
However, EasyJet welcomed the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out, and said underlying demand was strong for air travel. Chief executive Johan Lundgren told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme said that the recent developments on Covid vaccines “certainly is good news, because we know that is going to be a very critical part of the recovery”.
“But I don’t think it’s only about the vaccine, I think it’s also about the fact that we need to have testing in place, we need to have also refined development of the quarantine system,” he added.
“We know that people want to travel. On the news of the vaccine last Monday, bookings were up close to 50%, so it just gives evidence to the fact that any good news that comes out of here makes people more confident making bookings going forward.”
EasyJet’s revenues plunged due to government travel restrictions in most of its markets, the airline said. These included full national lockdowns, which led the airline to ground its entire fleet for 11 weeks. There was some recovery in demand in the summer as lockdowns were eased, but widespread quarantine restrictions in September once again eroded demand, it said.
EasyJet has been making use of UK government support, borrowing £600m in April. The airline said on Tuesday that after talks with the Bank of England and the Treasury, it would extend its borrowing under the government Corporate Finance Facility scheme, and stagger repayments.