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EasyJet blames quarantine restrictions for flight cuts

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The budget airline is reducing capacity over the coming months due to reduced consumer confidence to make travel plans.

EasyJet said that constantly evolving government restrictions across Europe and quarantine measures in the UK had knocked the demand for air travel.

The government announced yesterday that seven Greek islands would be removed from the safe travel list under a new travel corridor island policy. Customers returning to the UK from these destinations after 4am on 9 September will need to quarantine for two weeks.

The airline said it would “continue to focus on profitable flying”.

In response to the reduced demand for travel, based on current travel restrictions and quarantine rules in the markets where it operates, EasyJet now expects to fly slightly less than the 40% of planned capacity for Q4 2020.

It pointed to the many changes to government restrictions since its Q3 update, the lack of visibility and the continued level of uncertainty, as to why it wouldn’t be offering any forward looking financial guidance for the financial years 2020 and 2021 at the moment.

In a statement to the City, EasyJet said it planned to “focus on delivering a flying schedule that drives a positive contribution while maintaining focus on minimising cash burn through our cost out programme that will drive down costs in all areas of the business.”

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said: “As we said at our Q3 trading update, we are closely monitoring customer behaviour and amending flying to ensure our schedule is aligned with demand. Following the imposition of additional quarantine restrictions to seven Greek Islands and the continued uncertainty this brings for customers, demand is now likely to be further impacted and therefore lower than previously anticipated.

“We now expect to fly slightly less than 40% of our planned schedule over the current quarter. We will continue to take a prudent and conservative approach to capacity, as we have done during this period. We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.

“We called on the government to opt for a targeted, regionalised and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact that the pandemic and associated government policies has had on the whole industry. We again call on the government to provide sector specific support for aviation which needs to take the form of a broad package of measures including the removal of APD for at least 12 months, the alleviation of ATC charges along with continuation of the slot rule waiver. These steps will support the retention of skills in the sector – all of which would support jobs and promote connectivity.”