All Easyjet planes grounded. archive photo | Ultima Hora

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EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet until further notice because of the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company says drastic measures were necessary to “eliminate significant cost", and that government aid will be used to keep the workforce on payroll. EasyJet says it has "a solid balance sheet" and is "in talks with liquidity providers" to shore up its continuity once the crisis is over.

The budget airline also announced that it has signed an agreement with the unions to apply the government job retention program and pay cabin crew 80% of their salary for two months from Wednesday.

Easyjet blames "unprecedented government travel restrictions" and "national confinement" by many countries to combat COVID-19 for the grounding of all flights.

The airline has helped to repatriate over 45,000 passengers onboard more than 650 rescue flights and says it will continue to do so if required.

"At this time, there is no certainty of the date on which commercial flights may be resumed and we will evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand,” said a spokesperson.

Virgin Atlantic and the Irish airline, Ryanair have already grounded most of their aircraft and IAG, which owns Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, LEVEL and Vueling, has reduced its capacity by 75%.

Virgin Atlantic has said it will ask the British government for funds and other airlines are likely to follow suit, but the British Government has made it clear that a state bailout of the Airline Sector would be a last resort and companies should try to obtain capital from other sources, such as shareholders first.