suspends all routes until May

UK leisure airline has suspended its flying program until at least May 1.

The parent company of expects the British LCC’s fleet to remain grounded until May at the earliest.

In a trading update to investors, Dart Group said the unforeseen level of travel restrictions imposed by governments across Europe in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic mean flights are unlikely to resume for at least six weeks.

Over the past week the carrier has conducted an “extensive” repatriation program to bring passengers home. This included a number of its Spain-bound services turning around mid-flight after the advice changed to avoid all but essential travel.

“Although we have a strong and prudent balance sheet with a £1.5 billion ($1.74 billion) cash balance at March 18, 2020 and long-term structured debt in relation to aircraft financing, given the escalating situation we have accelerated actions to underpin the stability of our business and improve cash flows,” Dart Group said in a statement.

“This includes a reduced flying programme beyond May 1, 2020, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending and deferring all non-regulatory capital expenditure. In addition, we are in ongoing discussions with existing liquidity providers who recognise the strength of our business model.”

OAG Schedules Analyser data shows’s summer season flying program was scheduled to cover almost 400 routes and 14.3 million available seats. In March and April 2019, the carrier operated 9,518 flights and offered 1.8 million seats.

Dart Group said it was “encouraged” by the UK government’s pledge to support businesses with loans, adding: “We look forward to seeing further details of the proposed support for airlines and airports in due course.”

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