EasyJet could keep middle seats empty once coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, its chief executive has said.
Johan Lundgren said, “Our assumption is that load factors will not be back to normal early on, which means that we will have the opportunity for a middle-seat option, but I’m talking about this as an initial phase and nobody knows for how long that phase will be.”
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said, “How do you judge a business in survival mode? One way is to look at how much cash it has left to keep the lights on. On this measure shareholders in budget airline EasyJet appear to have at least some grounds for encouragement after this morning’s announcement.
“A combination of measures, including drawing on the Bank of England financing facility, issuing new debt and selling and leasing back aircraft (if it can) is hoped to top up the coffers to the tune of a little more than £3bn.
“Not forgetting the fact that, amid a spat with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the company has deferred the delivery of 24 new planes from Airbus.
“These and other potential future moves like looking for further state support or deferring maintenance spending could have implications for the company’s ability to regain altitude when the current turbulence is behind it.
“And it is a stark illustration of the industry’s perilous position that even £3bn would only cover it for a nine-month grounding of its fleet.
“What is unpredictable at this stage is what a recovery in the aviation industry might look like, and how business and leisure travellers might adjust their behaviour once the current pandemic is contained.
“There is also the longer term concern over the impact of air travel on the environment. Chief executive Johan Lundgren will need to call on all his 30-plus years of experience in the travel sector if he is to pilot EasyJet through this crisis.
People in the UK have been warned that they will be going no where this year for a holiday in the EU as leader will keep their borders closed until the end of the year.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron has told the bloc to keep borders shut until, at least the end of September.