Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of the accompanying video. ©2020 Thomson Reuters.
The pandemic has pushed airlines to the brink. But easyJet sees some flickers of hope. It said on Tuesday [17 November] that bookings jumped by 50% on the day there was positive news about a coronavirus vaccine. Even so, the crisis has pushed the British airline to a $1.68 billion annual loss — the first in its history.
European travel has been at low levels for over eight months, and easyJet's loss for the 12 months to the end of September showed the extent of the damage. Despite this, Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said that underlying demand for travel was strong. "We know that down the line people want to travel. Just by news of the vaccine," he told the BBC.
Lundgren also said in a call with reporters that he has written to the British prime minister to offer the airline's help with using its planes to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine across the UK.
EasyJet's shares rose 45% last week, helped by the vaccine news. And its shares were up 1.6% in early deals on Tuesday. Quarterly cash burn, seen as a gauge by investors keen to see costs reduced, also improved for the period. The pandemic has crushed easyJet's finances, though, forcing it to take on more debt, tap shareholders for extra cash, and sell dozens of its aircraft.
And with lockdowns in England, France, and Germany, easyJet is currently flying at just 20% of planned capacity. It said short-term uncertainty was such that it could not provide any financial guidance.