EasyJet sold more jets to aircraft lessors, raising almost $400 million to pad its finances against a surge in COVID-19 cases that's pushed a travel recovery into next year.
The UK discount airline said it sold nine Airbus SE A320 jets in two transactions, and will lease the planes back for almost 10 years, according to a statement Tuesday. Following the transaction, the carrier will own 152 aircraft, or 44% of its fleet, it said.
Airlines have used sale-leaseback transactions to make up for a cash shortfall after the coronavirus pandemic caused a slump in travel, slamming revenue. Tuesday's deal will provide EasyJet with about 1.3 months of additional liquidity, Morgan Stanley analysts Carolina Dores and Alexandra Thrum said in a research note.
"The transaction is positive, albeit a small one, as it reflects EasyJet's asset valuation and access to different sources of funding," they wrote.
Before Tuesday's deal, EasyJet had raised more than $3.1 billion (2.4 billion pounds), including $792 million (608 million pounds) from similar jet sales and $545 million (419 million pounds) from an equity increase.
While EasyJet entered 2020 with one of the industry's strongest balance sheets, rising infections have spurred fresh lockdowns and travel restrictions across Europe. That's added to the strain on carriers already reeling from a weak summer.
The airline reported its first-ever annual loss, and scrapped dividend payments, while pulling back on its winter schedule including its presence in Italy.
EasyJet shares rose as much as 6.4%, and were up 0.4% as of 8:31 a.m. in London. They have lost 63% of their value this year.