Low cost carrier easyJet has called for backing from governments in Europe to ensure the survival of the aviation sector after the coronavirus pandemic.

The Luton-based carrier says flight cancellations will continue “on a rolling basis” due to the “unprecedented level of travel restrictions being imposed by governments”.

Given the level of uncertainty, easyJet said it was not possible to provide financial guidance for the remainder of the current financial year.

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Rescue flights continue to operate but the cancellations could see the grounding of the majority of the easyJet fleet, the airline warned.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive said: “At easyJet we are doing everything in our power to rise to the challenges of the Coronavirus so that we can continue to provide the benefits that aviation brings to people, the economy and business.

“We continue to operate rescue and repatriation flights to get people home where we can, so they can be with family and friends in these difficult times.

“European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that coordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over.”

The carrier said to mitigate the impact from COVID-19 it is “taking every action to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level” and aircraft groundings will remove significant levels of variable costs.

In an update this morning easyJet said it has a strong balance sheet including a £1.6bn cash balance, an undrawn $500m revolving credit facility, unencumbered aircraft worth in excess of £4bn and a large and valuable slot portfolio.

The carrier added it has no debt re-financing due until 2022 and is in “ongoing discussions with liquidity providers who recognise our strength of balance sheet and business model”.

The carrier added: “European aviation faces a precarious future and there is no guarantee that the European airlines, along with all the benefits it brings for people, the economy and business, will survive what could be a long-term travel freeze and the risks of a slow recovery.

“Whether it does or not will depend significantly on European airlines maintaining access to liquidity, including that enabled by governments across Europe.

“EasyJet continues to work closely with the authorities and is following the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation and EASA to ensure the health and wellbeing of or people and customers.”