LONDON – British low-cost airline EasyJet warned Thursday its first-ever annual loss could be as much as US$1.09 billion, calling on the British government to step up with bespoke measures to support the airline industry, reported Xinhua news agency.
In a trading statement, EasyJet said its headline loss before tax forecast for the year ended Sept. 30 could be in the range of GBP815 to 845 million (about US$1.05 to 1.09 billion), and its passenger numbers have decreased by 50 per cent to 48 million during the last 12 months.
“This year will be the first time in its history that easyJet has ever made a full-year loss…At the beginning of this year, no one could have imagined the impact the pandemic has had on the industry,” said CEO of EasyJet Johan Lundgren.
Based on current travel restrictions in the markets, easyJet expects to fly about 25 per cent of planned capacity for the first quater (Q1) of 2021, which will be even lower than the 38 percentage target of Q4 this year.
“Aviation continues to face the most severe threat in its history and the UK government urgently needs to step up with a bespoke package of measures to ensure airlines are able to support economic recovery when it comes,” Lundgren said.
According to the Airlines UK, the trade body for Britain registered airlines including EasyJet, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, Britain has the third-largest aviation network in the world, following the United States and China.
The aviation industry contributes enormously to the British economy, with a direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) of GBP5.2 billion (about US$6.71 billion).
Last month, the Airlines UK wrote to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the country’s aviation industry needs immediate support.
In the letter, the Airlines UK said a recovery to 2019 levels is not expected for at least four years and as a result, British airlines alone have announced or begun consulting on more than 30,000 job losses.
Sky News reported that the low-cost airline has signaled during recent interactions with the British government that its balance sheet could require a state loan or other form of financing if the coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate its schedule during the coming months.
The report came at a time when countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.