Easyjet has announced the grounding of its entire fleet of around 340 aircraft, following the completion of hundreds of “rescue flights” over the last couple of weeks.

In a statement to investors the airline said:

“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 [March 30, 2020], fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.

“Over recent days Easyjet has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning home more than 45,000 customers. The last of these rescue flights were operated on Sunday March 29. We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.

“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.

“We continue to take every action to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level in order to help mitigate the impact from the coronavirus. The grounding of aircraft removes significant cost.

“Easyjet maintains a strong balance sheet, with no debt re-financings due until 2022. We are in ongoing discussions with liquidity providers who recognise our strength of balance sheet and business model.

“Easyjet and Unite the union have collaboratively reached an agreement on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew. The agreement will be effective from April 1, 2020 for a period of two months and means that crew will be paid 80 per cent of their average pay through the Government job retention scheme. “

Earlier this morning it was announced that Virgin Atlantic and Easyjet have written to employees to ask them to consider staffing the temporary critical care field hospitals (known as Nightingale Hospitals) which are being set up to help the fight against coronavirus.

Commenting on the news Easyjet’s CEO Johan Lundgren said:

“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. We are working tirelessly to ensure that Easyjet continues to be well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus.”

Earlier this month Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said he “does not expect” the group to operate any flights in April and May.