easyJet has reached agreement with Airbus for the net deferral of 24 aircraft deliveries from financial years 2020-2022.
The move comes as the low-cost carrier seeks to maximise its liquidity position in the event of an extended grounding period in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline also hopes to ensure it is ready to react as European airspace begin to reopen.
The decision is also a victory for easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has long criticised the £4.5 billion order for 107 aircraft in total. The tycoon, who continues to control the largest stake in the airline, has demanded easyJet preserves cash rather than buying new aircraft because of the collapse in air travel.
In total, easyJet will defer delivery of ten planes this year, 12 next year and two from 2022. As a result, in financial 2021 the airline will take no aircraft deliveries and retains the option to defer a further five deliveries in 2022. Exact dates of future deliveries of the deferred aircraft are to be agreed in response to the demand environment.
Within the next 16 months easyJet also has 24 operating leases due for renewal providing the airline with further flexibility, which could include deferment and cancellation.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: “Our industry is facing unprecedented challenges which require unprecedented action.
“As we have consistently said, we remain completely focused on improving short term liquidity and reducing expenditure across the business.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that we have agreed with Airbus to amend our delivery schedule by deferring the purchase of 24 aircraft, providing a significant boost to our cash flow and a vast reduction to our near-term capex programme.
“In addition, we have 24 leases up for renewal over the next 16 months, which gives us another level of flexibility to respond to future demand.”
easyJet added it would provide more information regarding its future fleet plan during a trading update next week.