If the government did not help the aviation industry during the pandemic crisis. The Britain airlines would have been struggling when the pandemic ends says the boss of EasyJet.
However, commenting on the COVID-19 crisis, chief executive Johan Lundgren says that the travel sector could collapse if they do not get any assistance.
“This is a complex industry of many parts. My fear is that unless a package is put in place the industry will not be there and functioning in the way the country needs it, bringing in business people and tourists to help the economy recover.”
He dismissed the government’s move yesterday to launch a “task force” to look at introducing Covid-19 testing at UK airports as being too little, too late.
“They are already doing testing in Germany and France and have been doing it for months. Just announcing a task force? This is not what we had hoped for,” said Lundgren.
However, he says that the UK government did not take prompt actions in helping the aviation industry. Whereas Holland, Germany, France, and others have granted billions of euros in aid to keep their airlines, and the infrastructure around them, operating.
UK Government’s Procrastination
Last night, US President Donald Trump called for more assistance to US airlines.
Lundgren said, “We accessed the government loan scheme, and furlough was helpful. But these were open to all businesses who qualified. Not targeted at aviation.”
“We were singled out at the very beginning as the industry most hit by the virus. But since then there has not been any specific package for us.”
“This crisis has gone far beyond what the industry expected it would have to deal with.”
Losses by the Airlines
EasyJet says it would be losing £815 million to £845 million this year. As passenger numbers are decreasing and flights are down to 25% of normal levels.
Lundgren has raised £2.4 billion of cash to tide the group through the crisis by issuing new shares, debt, and selling and leasing back its planes. This included borrowing £600 million from the government’s COVID corporate financing facility available for any company with an investment-grade credit rating.
EasyJet had already had to take the “very difficult decision” to pull out of Stansted, Newcastle, and Southend airports.
He and his fellow airline bosses are lobbying the government for help. “The government understands and accepts there are difficult prospects. I just believe this should come higher up the agenda; get a higher priority,” he said.
He called for key measures to help airlines have more confidence to arrange their future schedules, continue operating, and save jobs.