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Coronavirus: EasyJet ramps up flights to 40% capacity despite quarantine rules

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·Finance and policy reporter
·2-min read
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15 March 2020, Brandenburg, Schönefeld: An EasyJet aircraft lands at Schoenefeld Airport in a red evening sky. (to "Lütke Daldrup on the effects of Corona on Berlin Airports") Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images)
An EasyJet plane. The airline has expanded its flights despite uncertainty over UK coronavirus quarantine rules. Photo: Soeren Stache/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

EasyJet (EZJ.L) has ramped up its flight timetables over the summer, despite heightened uncertainty over UK travel quarantine restrictions after new rules were imposed on Spanish travel.

The company’s CEO Johan Lundgren said demand in July and bookings for the rest of the summer were higher than expected. He announced EasyJet had expanded its schedule to about 40% of capacity in its fourth-quarter between July and September, rather than the 30% expected last month, with 210 lines of flying expected to be operating in August.

Lundgren said it had a continued focus “only on profitable flying,” and flights to Nice and Faro had proved particularly popular in July. EasyJet flew just over two million passengers in July after re-starting commercial flights in mid-June.

The UK government is still imposing 14-day quarantine on new arrivals from many countries, however, in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19 from countries with high infection rates. The reintroduction of the rules for holidaymakers returning from Spain at short notice late last month sparked fears among would-be travellers and airlines that more popular destinations could follow.

“We urgently need to target quarantine requirements to where spikes have occurred rather than at national level,” Lundgren told reporters on Tuesday.

READ MORE: EasyJet slashes up to 4,500 staff in ‘knee-jerk’ job cuts

EasyJet also revealed it burnt through £774m ($1.01bn) in its third quarter to 30 June as the airline took a hammering from the collapse in global air travel, albeit with cash burn lower than previous expectations of about £1bn.

Its revenue came in at just £7m, with the airline swinging to pre-tax losses of £324.5m, from a profit of £174.2m a year earlier. It did not give detailed financial guidance, but said it expected a “smaller loss” in its fourth-quarter to the end of September than the third quarter.

READ MORE: Coronavirus travel restrictions drag Frankfurt Airport operator to first-half loss

EasyJet had raised around £419m by issuing new discounted shares last month in a bid to shore up its finances. The budget airline has already announced plans to slash around 4,500 jobs, after warning it did not expect demand to reach pre-virus levels for another three years.

The decision to slash up to a third of its entire workforce sparked a backlash from union leaders, who called it a “kick in the teeth.”

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