2020/06/30 18:26:08 Written by Canarian Weekly Business

EasyJet has today revealed up to 4,500 staff will lose their jobs as it looks to close three of its bases across the UK. The budget carrier is proposing to close bases at London's Stansted and Southend airports, and at Newcastle, union BALPA said in a statement. 

EasyJet is expected to lose up to 4,500 jobs across its entire network including around 1,900 UK employees. Some 727 of its UK-based pilots are at risk of redundancy, equivalent to about one-third of its pilots in the country. The airline announced last month it was reducing its workforce by up to 30 per cent, warning it needed to cut 4,500 jobs to stay competitive after coronavirus caused a travel market slump.

At the start of this month easyJet raised £419million of cash to help it see through the pandemic. It has also taken a £600million Government loan. The beleaguered Luton-based carrier becomes the latest domino to fall in the aviation industry, which has suffered massive losses in the wake of the pandemic.

The airline said the proposals are to close the bases at the end of August so customers booked to fly from the airport over the summer, 'will not be affected as a result of this.' If a base is closed, customers will be contacted and if their flights are cancelled they will be able to transfer to an alternative flight free of charge, receive a voucher or apply for a refund.

EasyJet last month announced possible job cuts as it said it did not expect demand to return to 2019 passenger levels until 2023. Today, it began consultation on proposals with employee representatives including BALPA and UNITE on all of its UK based pilots and crew.

The proposals include the potential closing of three of its bases in the UK – London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle. EasyJet said these airports would remain part its route network.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said today: 'These are very difficult proposals to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time for the airline and the industry as a whole.

'We are focused on doing what is right for the company and its long term health and success so we can protect jobs going forward.

'Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people – we are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.

'These proposals are no reflection on our people at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, who have all worked tirelessly and have been fully committed to providing great service for our customers.'

A spokesman for BALPA said it was 'shocked' by the scale of the job cuts and 'excessive over-reaction.'

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: 'We know that aviation is in the midst of the Covid crisis and we had been expecting EasyJet to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline through to recovery.

'But this seems an excessive over reaction and EasyJet won't find a supply of pilots waiting to come back when the recovery takes place over the next two years.'