EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of airplanes due to a collapse in demand and extraordinary international travel restrictions during the global coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the budget airline officially grounded its entire fleet of 344 planes until further notice. EasyJet had already canceled most of its flights and reached an agreement with unions on furlough plans for cabin crew employees.
In a statement shared with Fox News, a spokesperson for the carrier cited “unprecedented travel restrictions” worldwide and national lockdown policies across much of Europe during the COVID-19 outbreak in making the difficult decision.
“As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, EasyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft,” the March 30 statement said.
In recent days, the low-cost airline has helped repatriate customers, operating over 650 rescue flights to get 45,000 people home. The last rescue flight flew out on March 29, EasyJet said. The airline will continue working with government agencies to organize additional rescue flights as needed.
“At this stage, there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights,” the spokesperson continued. “We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”
Moving forward, EasyJet and the union Unite have reached an agreement on furlough plans for cabin crew employees. Starting April 1, crew members will be paid 80 percent of their average wages for two months.
“I am extremely proud of the way in which people across EasyJet have given their absolute best at such a challenging time, including so many crew who have volunteered to operate rescue flights to bring our customers home,” Johan Lundgren, CEO of EasyJet, said in the Monday statement. “We are working tirelessly to ensure that EasyJet continues to be well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus.”
Those seeking additional information about the carrier’s latest coronavirus policies can learn more at EasyJet’s website.
On Twitter, EasyJet asked customers affected by the total fleet grounding to remain patient during this time, and apologized for any inconvenience.
For customers on cancelled flights, please remember that you do not have to contact us prior to your original flight date.— easyJet (@easyJet) March 30, 2020
Please be assured that your entitlements in case of cancelled flights are available for up to a year after your flight was originally due to depart. (1/2)
“For customers on canceled flights, please remember that you do not have to contact us prior to your original flight date. Please be assured that your entitlements in case of canceled flights are available for up to a year after your flight was originally due to depart,” the carrier tweeted on Monday.
“Our teams are exceptionally busy and also operating with fewer resources due to the lockdown measures. Please only contact us now if it is very urgent. We understand this is frustrating and for that, we’re sorry. Thank you for your understanding.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.