easyJet (U2, London Luton) has succeeded in raising about GBP419 million pounds (USD521 million) via a share placement to help steady its finances after it posted deeper losses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 59,541,498 new ordinary shares in the company were placed at a price of GBP7.03 (USD8.75) per share, which represents a 5% discount on the closing price of GBP7.40 (USD9.21) on June 24, the low-cost carrier said in a statement on June 25.

The placed shares represent about 15% of the company’s existing issued share capital. The new equity will help boost liquidity to about GBP3 billion (USD3.7 billion), easyJet said, which will help it to survive longer into the crisis, even if aircraft are grounded again. A number of the fleet returned to the air in mid-June with a minimal service.

The share price has halved in value since the start of the year. easyGroup Holdings said on June 24 that revenue increased 1.6% year-on-year in the six months ending March 31 to almost GBP2.4 billion (USD3 billion), while its pretax loss for the period widened to GBP353 million (USD439 million).

However, it claimed that GBP160 million (USD199 million) of the deficit was due to hedging against fluctuations in fuel prices, which backfired as fleets were grounded in the spring.

It confirmed that it would begin a “progressive” employee consultation process this month, having already announced plans to axe 4,500 jobs, arguing that demand was unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

easyJet also said in its results that it was working towards a target range of USD624-812 million in proceeds through the sale and leaseback of some of its aircraft.

It has already signed separate binding contractual agreements with SMBC Aviation Capital, JP Lease Products & Services, and Aero Capital Solutions, for the sale and leaseback of 15 aircraft - two A321-200neo, three A320-200neo, three A320-200s, and seven A319-100s whose ages range from new to 12 years of age - with total proceeds of around USD376 million.

easyJet's attempts to fight the impact of the virus have been complicated by the management's ongoing feud with its founder and biggest shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who, as previously reported, has tried to oust executives over a long-held demand to cancel a GBP4.5 billion (USD5.6 billion) aircraft order with Airbus.

The founder’s family sold a small stake in the company on June 12, for the first time since 2015, reducing it from 33.73% to 32.99%, after he failed to expel four board members, Sky News reported. easyjet is reportedly considering legal action against Haji-Ioannou for publishing allegations which the company insists are outright lies, according to the UK's Daily Mail newspaper.