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easyJet Expands Flight Schedules on the Back of Stronger Than Expected Demand, High Load Factors

easyJet Expands Flight Schedules on the Back of Stronger Than Expected Demand, High Load Factors

easyJet will increase its flight schedule to roughly 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels after witnessing a stronger than expected demand for new bookings and seeing average load factors reach as high as 84 per cent in July. The decision to fly more planes on more routes comes despite fears of a second wave of the novel Coronavirus bubbling through Europe and new travel restrictions hitting holidaymakers thinking of going to certain regions in Spain.

The Luton-based low-cost carrier had originally planned to operate 30 per cent of its capacity from July through September but has seen particularly strong demand to certain destinations like Faro and Nice. Despite increasing its flying programme, easyJet is still lagging far behind its main competitor Ryanair which hopes to operate 60 per cent of its schedule in August, increasing to 70 per cent in September.

“Our bookings for the remainder of the summer are performing better than expected and as a result, we have decided to expand our schedule over the fourth quarter to fly 40 per cent of capacity,” commented easyJet chief executive. Johan Lundgren. “This increased flying will allow us to connect even more customers to family or friends and to take the breaks they have worked hard for.”

Lundgren said the airline had been losing £30 – £40 million per week over the last few months, to record a total cash burn of £774 million – down from a previous estimate of £1 billion. With increased flying and strong demand, easyJet said it expects to record a smaller loss in the fourth quarter but could not provide an estimate because of the short-term uncertainty in the market.

easyJet today defended plans to slash its workforce by a nearly a third, saying the plans were necessary to ensure the airline emerged on the other side of the pandemic. The BALPA pilots union have described the redundancy plans as an “excessive overreaction”.

Workers have expressed frustration at easyJet’s decision to press ahead with the job cuts despite paying out £174 million in shareholder dividends in March and accepting a £600 million government-backed loan to help weather the Corona crisis.

Along with COVID-19 related losses, the airline also faces the threat of a huge bill after a data hack involving the theft of the personal travel details of nine million customers earlier this year. easyJet could be fined by data protection regulators over the breach and is also facing a class-action lawsuit.

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