EasyJet today confirmed that its entire fleet of aircraft has been fully grounded due to “unprecedented travel restrictions” triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

And the UK budget carrier warned: “At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for re-starting commercial flights” due to lockdowns across many European countries.

Agreement has been reached with the Unite union on furlough arrangements for cabin crew.

This will be effective from April 1 for two months and means that crew will be paid 80% of their average pay through the government’s job retention scheme.

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The airline ran the last of a series of 650 repatriation flights to return more than 45,000 passengers home on Sunday.

“We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested,” the airline said.

“We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.

“We continue to take every action to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level in order to help mitigate the impact from the coronavirus.  The grounding of aircraft removes significant cost.”

The carrier insisted that it maintains a strong balance sheet, with no debt re-financings due until 2022.

“We are in ongoing discussions with liquidity providers who recognise our strength of balance sheet and business model,” the airline added.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “I am extremely proud of the way in which people across easyJet have given their absolute best at such a challenging time, including so many crew who have volunteered to operate rescue flights to bring our customers home.

“We are working tirelessly to ensure that easyJet continues to be well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus.”

Nigel Frith, a senior market analyst at Asktraders.com, said: “With worries that there has not been given a date to start commercial flying again, the airline has definitely done their part with rescue flights and crew being sent to help the NHS with the virus.

“This is no longer smaller players being affected anymore; with the collapse with Flybe in March, it’s no doubt we are going to be seeing some of the big names within the industry go with them.

“The big question is, which airlines will survive the pandemic and which ones won’t?”

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: “With easyJet grounding its entire fleet, many people may face being stranded abroad, so the airline should urgently set out how it will return passengers to the UK, including the possibility of rescue flights or flights with other operators.

“Many easyJet customers say they are struggling to get clear information about their rights to a refund for cancelled flights. While some may be happy rebooking their holiday for a later date or accepting a voucher, the airline is legally obliged to offer refunds to customers whose flights have been cancelled.

“The government must consider all options to support the airline industry through this period, so consumers aren’t left without money they need at this time.”