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EasyJet rejects claims it is 'hanging by a thread' as pilots avoid compulsory redundancies

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
On Friday, the airline agreed a deal with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) to avoid compulsory redundancies among its pilots. Photo: Getty
On Friday, the airline agreed a deal with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) to avoid compulsory redundancies among its pilots. Photo: Getty

EasyJet (EZJ.L) has rejected claims made by a union representative that the company is “hanging by a thread,” as reported by the BBC.

Martin Entwistle allegedly said that the budget airline is in a “really dire” situation, after a meeting with easyJet’s chief financial officer Andrew Findlay, in a leaked recording obtained by the broadcaster.

However, easyJet denies that the recording reflects “what easyJet or its CFO said.”

The airline told Yahoo Finance: “We have been clear the whole industry has been impacted by the pandemic, however easyJet has taken a prudent approach to capacity and the right actions on cash preservation. The airline continues to keep all liquidity options under review, but no decisions have been taken.

“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.

“As we said at our recent trading update, changing restrictions and quarantine requirements continue to impact consumer confidence to book travel so we continue to call on the UK Government for sector specific support.”

In response to the claims, BALPA said: “The crisis in aviation is well known and something we have been highlighting for months. A local rep was recorded giving his own impression of some of the difficulties that easyJet - like all airlines - are facing.”

The union added that it has “confidence in easyJet's business plan to get through this winter period and help power the UK's economic recovery in the coming months.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: EasyJet jobs at risk as bases close and Ryanair axes flights

On Friday, the airline agreed a deal with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) to avoid compulsory redundancies among its pilots.

BALPA said 727 pilots were at risk of losing their jobs earlier this year and that 60 pilots left voluntarily, while 1,500 opted for part-time working, the union’s general secretary Brian Strutton hailed it a “remarkable” achievement.

Strutton said: “This is a remarkable achievement which has only been possible because of three groups of people – the [BALPA] reps, easyJet management who have worked with us constructively during this process, but most of all the easyJet pilots themselves who have volunteered in record numbers for part-time work and voluntary redundancy to help save their colleagues’ jobs.”

The COVID-19 pandemic saw passenger numbers dwindle as the global aviation industry was hammered by the impact of grounded flights, especially during the lockdown and quarantine measures.

In August, Britain’s biggest budget airline said that it had raised an additional £203m from the sale and leaseback of its aircraft, as it further bolstered its balance sheet in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. It was also hit by the UK government’s decision to add France to the quarantine list, after it ramped up its summer flight timetables to meet demand despite heightened uncertainty about the measures.

At the time, chief executive Johan Lundgren said that bookings for the rest of the summer were higher than expected, prompting the airline to expand its schedule to about 40% of capacity in its fourth-quarter between July and September, rather than the 30% expected last month.

Also in August, easyJet confirmed three UK bases will close, with the airline expecting a slow recovery amid the pandemic and slashing costs.

While in May, it announced plans to slash around 4,500 jobs globally, after warning it did not expect demand to reach pre-virus levels for another three years.

In June, the low-cost airline announced that it had delayed the delivery of 24 Airbus (AIR.PA) aircraft until sometime between 2025 and 2027, noting that it had secured “additional flexibility” from the French plane-maker.