EasyJet chief calls for support for industry from the government
easyJet boss Johan Lundgren is urging the UK Government to give a “clear plan” to “unwind restrictions” as tightened travel restrictions come into force. The budget carrier reported a drop of 87 percent in passenger capacity in the final three months of 2020.
The airline flew just 18 percent of the service capacity it did during the same period in 2019.
Though the easyJet boss says the drop was “in line with expectations” and points to “actions” taken throughout the year to protect the airline, he believes the travel industry as a whole needs more supportive they are to “survive another summer”.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “There are also some positive indicators that people really want to take their holidays, really want to travel, and the key to that is actually that the government start unwinding restrictions.
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“That can only come when we have seen a successful roll-out of the vaccination programme, but certainly that is difficult and the latest restrictions have also, of course, impacted short term demand.”
He continued: “It has been recognised the aviation industry has been one of the hardest, if not the hardest hit, industry of this pandemic because we essentially haven’t been able to operate in any type of normality and with little volumes as we have seen from our quarter-end.
“And what we believe is the most important thing is that there is a clear plan on how to unwind these restrictions. That is absolutely the key thing.”
The airline currently has its cash burn sitting at around £40,000 but says it needs a clear direction in order to “reduce the cost and control” of its monetary reserves.
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“The way I understand it is that [the plan for] travel is going to be part of what the Government announces on February 22 if not sooner,” he said.
Airlines have also called for the Government to reduce air passenger duty, which would lower the cost of ticket prices and potentially drive demand once it is safe to fly.
“We have also been calling out for removal of the air passenger duty which is one of the highest duties and taxes in the world of aviation because that savings would come to the benefit of the customers which means it would encourage further demand to come into place.
“When that happens we will put on more capacity and more connectivity and that connectivity is so needed for the whole of the UK as well.”
Mr Lundgren highlighted the struggle to maintain furloughed employees, some of whom have not worked for almost an entire year.
“Clearly as long as these restrictions, if they are continued, we are going to need to look for further support,” he said.
“It could perhaps be 100 percent supportive furlough scheme to avoid mass redundancies that would otherwise be the case.
“That comes on top of all the difficulties and redundancies that this industry has already seen.
“I think that will really come down to the survival of the industry as a whole.”
Despite this, the airline boss was positive passenger demand will return eventually, with many Britons already casting their hopes on a future holiday.
“We know that people are going to want to fly again,” he said.
“We know that is a primary purpose for the holiday plans people have and when we do so we have a good chance of coming back to normality and recovery a lot of the losses we have incurred in the last 10 months.”
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