EasyJet said this morning that expects to operate no more than 20% of its flights during the first quarter as it posted a £1.27 billion loss for the year.
In its result statement this morning, it said passenger numbers and revenues had more than halved for the year up to the end of September.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the airline said it expects to operate only up to 20% of its normal capacity in the first three months of the year but it said that it has the flexibility to ramp up capacity when it sees demand returning.
In an upbeat statement, chief Executive Johan Lundgren added: “I am immensely proud of the performance of the easyJet team in facing the challenges of 2020. We responded robustly and decisively, minimising losses, reducing cash burn and launching the largest Cost Out and restructuring programme in our history – all while raising more than £3.1 billion in liquidity to date.”
He said the airline had withstood the impact of the pandemic and had ‘an unparalleled foundation’ upon which to emerge strongly from the crisis.
“While we expect to fly no more than 20% of planned capacity for Q1 2021, maintaining our disciplined approach to cash generative flying over the winter, we retain the flexibility to rapidly ramp up when demand returns,” he added.
“We know our customers want to fly with us and underlying demand is strong, as evidenced by the 900% increase in sales in the days following the lifting of quarantine for the Canary Islands in October.
“We responded with agility adding 180,000 seats within 24 hours to harness the demand. And last week we saw the welcome news about a possible imminent vaccine roll out.
“I would like to thank everyone at easyJet for their work which has left us well positioned and expecting to bounce back strongly.”
As part of its cost-cutting measures easyJet has closed three UK bases – Southend, Newcastle and Stansted – but it is opening seasonal bases in Malaga and Faro for summer 2021.
It said it expects leisure travel to be the first to recover from the pandemic as customers look to take holidays again and visit friends and families in short haul markets where there is likely to be greater alignment in government travel restrictions.
“They will also gravitate towards value and short haul trips, where the perceived risks of consumers are lower and the financial commitment is lower,” it said.