EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline has announced.
The Luton-based carrier said the measure “removes significant cost” as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand caused by the outbreak of the virus.
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It insisted it “maintains a strong balance sheet” and revealed it is in “ongoing discussions with liquidity providers”.
The airline also announced it has reached an agreement with union Unite on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew.
The deal will be effective from Wednesday for a two-month period and means cabin crew will be paid 80 per cent of their average pay through the Government job retention scheme.
The Sun previously revealed easyJet’s pilots yesterday turned down the airline’s bid to tear up their contracts and adopt a ‘coronavirus cooperation agreement’.
The no-frills airline wanted crew and pilots to take three months unpaid leave as up to 3,000 staff face losing their jobs.
Cabin crew will join doctors and nurses in staffing the new Nightingale hospitals built to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has said.
Staff at EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic have been invited to volunteer at the new 4,000-bed clinic being built at the Excel centre in east London, and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester.
Many first-aid trained cabin crew across the world have been grounded as countries have closed borders and cancelled flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
EasyJet has already written to its 9,000 UK-based staff including 4,000 cabin crew trained in CPR to invite them to give their time to the NHS.
Virgin Atlantic will begin writing to 4,000 of its employees on Monday and will prioritise getting in touch with those who already have the required skills.
Those who join up will be given expert training and will then perform support roles such as changing beds under the guidance of trained nurses.
EasyJet has said it is “proud” its staff can support medics at this “crucial time”.
Tina Milton, director of cabin services, added: “The NHS is at the forefront of dealing with this health emergency but the training and skills our cabin crew have, working closely with the medical professionals, could help make a real difference.”
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The move to ground the planes comes just days after the airline’sunder-fire boss Peter Bellew was forced to make a second apology in two days after slamming the “ridiculous hype” surrounding coronavirus.
Speaking from Gatwick’s crew room, the airline chief said in a video to staff: “Despite all the ridiculous hype that is going on about the virus we had full first wave operating and great cooperation from the crew.”
He then told of the importance of all cabin crew reporting for duty despite the impact of the deadly virus.
Mr Bellew said: “While we have less passenger numbers we really need to focus on better on-time performance.
“I need everybody please to show up for work at the moment and inspire of all the ridiculous press coverage it is getting.
“We will do the safe thing by our customers and our staff.”
The airline has already launched their winter sale too, with £29.99 flights to Europe – despite the current uncertainty of how long the coronavirus pandemic will affect travel.
The flights are available for travel between 25 October 2020 and 28 February 2021.
The new flights are available for all passengers to book, but are also available for passengers who have had their current flights affected by the travel ban.
The new routes provide more options for people who need to move their flights to a later date.
With the flight change fee also waived, it means travellers have more choice of flight options to be able to move their current cancelled flights for their next holiday.
It is also the first time that easyJet flights have cost a flat fee of £29.99, including taxes and charges.
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