easyJet: turbulence in air clear
Tomorrow the European Works Council will meet to begin mandatory consultation
On June 4th, the easyJet European Works Council will meet by videoconference to begin the mandatory consultation, following the recent declarations by the carrier, regarding the Group's economic situation and in particular the impact of the crisis on employment. Despite last week's announcement of the resumption of flight activities as of June 15, in a large part of the network, including Italy, and despite encouraging statements regarding flight booking trends, better for the Winter also compared to last year, the airline said that it will have to downsize its fleet by the end of 2021, giving up about 50 aircraft compared to the pre-Covid-19 planning forecasts, and that it will be forced to reduce its employees up to 30% and consequently also to rationalize its operating bases.
To date, the consultation has only started in the United Kingdom, but in the coming months it will touch all the countries of the network, and it is still to be understood what impact this restructuring will have on the Italian territory.
Waiting to be able to evaluate the half-year results to be presented on June 30, 2020, the European works council will request detailed information on the investments and rationalization plans announced, as well as all transnational updates that may affect employment relationships in the near future. If on the one hand, in fact, the carrier calms the market by announcing the gradual recovery of operations, starting from June 15th, across the European network, there seems to be little clarity on the financial situation and on the strategy that will be adopted to face the crisis.
Among the main unknowns there are also strong doubts about the real availability of cash and the results of a potential legal action of 20 billion Euros for violation of customers' personal data, due to a sophisticated hacker attack against approximately 9 million passengers. The PMBMB law firm has recently declared that it has filed an appeal with the London High Court on behalf of easyJet customers, accusing the company of having waited four months to inform those directly concerned, despite the hacker attack having been notified to the the UK Commissioner for Information office as early as January 2020. According to the law firm, the data breach would be considered not only "monumental" but also a terrible failure in terms of liability.
To add instability to the Group's situation there is also the internal battle between the founder and largest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the airline's Board of Directors, which could stop the current planned Airbus order, for a value of approximately EUR 5 billion.
easyJet is present in Italy for over 20 years and is today the third airline in the country by number of passengers. Up to now it has made more than 250 national and international routes available in 18 Italian airports, with a fleet of 34 aircraft, located in the three bases of Milan-Malpensa, Naples-Capodichino and the "Marco Polo" in Venice, where they are employees of nearly 1500 units. What will be the future of the airline in Italy remains difficult to predict and the lack of clarity regarding the recent decision to establish a common front with Ryanair, together with four other foreign carriers operating in Italy, through the newly formed AICALF, the Italian Association Low-Fares airlines, does not help.
"Representing the interests of low-cost companies in the context of relations with Italian Government authorities and with other institutional interlocutors, to avoid initiatives that create distortion in competition between carriers ...", including among the requests that of being exempted for example from having to apply the minimum economic treatment for Italian air transport personnel, however, it does not seem to be compatible with the position of the European for Fair Competition. The E4FC in fact, last 26 May, officially invited the European Commission and the national States to safeguard the European air industry and workers in the sector, arguing that there can be no competitiveness without social sustainability and respect for national labor law.
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