EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline said.

The Luton-based airline's portfolio of 344 planes will now remain grounded, a move which is said "removes significant cost" as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand caused by the outbreak of the virus.

In a statement, the airline announced: "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, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft."

The company has worked with union Unite to agree two-month furlough arrangements for cabin crew which means that crew will be paid 80% of their average pay through the Government job retention scheme. The deal will be effective from Wednesday.

The budget airline added: "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."

Cabin crew have been invited to help the NHS through the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA

It comes as EasyJet cabin crew could join doctors and nurses in staffing the new Nightingale hospitals built to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS has said.

EasyJet staff have been invited to volunteer at the new 4,000-bed clinic being built at the Excel centre in east London, and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester.

Their salaries will continue to be paid by the airlines.

Other airports in the region, like Stansted Airport, have also reduced the number of passenger flights available

London Stansted is open but with a limited passenger flight schedule in operation. Essential freight services continue to operate to and from the airport. Passengers still expecting to travel are strongly advised to check the status of their flight with the airline but only travel if strictly necessary in line with government guidance.

Stansted Airport

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