Cyprus untouched by easyJet’s cost-cutting

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Cyprus is not affected by easyJet’s decision to close three major airport hubs on September 1, affecting hundreds of flights, as the island is already faced with limited connectivity in the aftermath of coronavirus.

An easyJet representative told the Financial Mirror the company’s decision will not damage Cyprus’ already limited connectivity as easyJet flights from the island do not go to the three UK airports.

The budget airline will shut its Stansted, Southend, and Newcastle bases next month, affecting 670 employees and an unspecified number of international outbound flights.

All flights in and out of Southend will be permanently terminated.

The decision leaves Luton and Gatwick as the nearest easyJet bases for Stansted customers and Manchester and Liverpool for those who use Newcastle, out of which the company operates flights to Cyprus.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We have had to take the very difficult decision to close three UK bases as a result of the unprecedented impact of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, compounded by quarantine measures in the UK which is impacting demand for travel.”

The airline said it “will be informing affected customers of their options” including transferring to another airport or receiving a full refund in the coming days.

The EasyJet chief executive said: “I am pleased that we have been able to identify ways to significantly reduce the number of proposed compulsory redundancies through providing enhanced voluntary redundancy packages for all UK crew.”

Asked to comment on easyJet’s outlook, the company noted that “Since the pandemic began, easyJet has taken decisive actions to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level to mitigate the impact however IATA forecasts suggest that the levels of market demand seen in 2019 are not likely to be reached again until 2024”.

UK quarantine rules have also created uncertainty for customers and an impact on demand for travel.

“The airline will continue to operate at eight UK bases, serving over 490 routes serving 52 million customers in the UK.

EasyJet will continue to review its network and bases to ensure they are optimised in the current environment”.

The development comes to pour oil on the company’s already troubled waters with the company recently bailed out by the UK government.

It has recently secured a £600 mln loan from the Treasury and Bank of England’s emergency coronavirus fund, as the airline’s founder and biggest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, claimed it would run out of cash by the year-end regardless.

As if the coronavirus crisis was not enough, the company’s waters have been stirred with an internal conflict over management decisions with easyJet’s Cypriot founder trying to overturn a company’s decision to buy some 100 aircraft from Airbus.

Sir Stelios has failed in his attempt to oust the chairman and chief executive of the low-cost airline in a shareholder vote in May.

Haji-Ioannou, the airline’s largest shareholder, had been seeking to oust four directors in a special shareholder vote as he seeks the cancellation of a £4.5 bln order for more than 100 new aircraft that he believes jeopardises the airline’s future.

According to UK press reports, he had been hoping to oust the chief executive, Johan Lundgren, the chairman, John Barton, the finance chief, Andrew Findlay, and the non-executive director Andreas Bierwirth over the board’s refusal to cancel the aircraft order, placed with Airbus in 2013.