Miami – British low-cost carrier (LCC) group easyJet comprising of easyJet UK (U2), Switzerland (DS), and Europe (EC) is, according to the group’s captain and union official Martin Entwisle, “hanging by a thread” as a result of COVID-19 reductions.
The statement comes from leaked audio from an assembly of easyJet Pilots following a meeting Mr. Entwisle had with the airline’s management, including Chief Financial Officer Andrew Findlay.
At the meeting with the Pilots, Mr. Entwisle was pitching an agreement between easyJet and the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) to mitigate pandemic related redundancies. Announced on Friday, with the agreement some 1,500 U2 Pilots have opted for part-time working while 60 have left the airline, constituting around 75% of company Pilots.
EasyJet has denied that it is “hanging by a thread.” In a statement, the company said the “recording does not reflect [what] easyJet or its chief financial officer said.”
easyJet like other carriers has faced significant challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It has needed the placement of 80% of company Pilots on the UK government furlough scheme and the provision of a £600m loan from the national HM Treasury coronavirus emergency fund.
According to Mr. Entwisle, the European airline group has also sold around 30% of company aircraft before leasing them back to support the operation while “more aircraft are about to be sold.” Mr. Entwisle further added that peak daily flying “is not going to exceed 90 aircraft in the UK”.
While the easyJet group has denied the validity of the statements involving Mr. Entwisle, the airline recently cut flights and confirmed the closure of UK bases including Newcastle (NCL), London Southend (SEN), and London Stansted (STN). A company statement reads that the “airline continues to keep all liquidity options under review, but no decisions have been taken.”
easyJet further added “Winter flying is always significantly lower than summer and easyJet will continue with its prudent and dynamic approach to capacity over the winter. No decisions have been taken and we will update the market in due course.”
easyJet, like others in the industry, is grappling with deep setbacks as a result of COVID-19, having to significantly scale back operations.
easyJet Airbus A320-214 OE-IJD. Photo: © Daniel Sander