EasyJet plans to close some airport bases and sack 727 pilots

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EasyJet plans to close some airport bases and sack 727 pilots

EasyJet is preparing to place 727 pilots on redundancy and close three major UK airport bases as part of restructuring plans as it deals with the impacts of the global pandemic.

The budget airline said hundreds of pilot jobs are at risk and formal consultations are starting today (June 30).

Union Balpa said it is “shocked at the size of potential job losses” which equates to nearly one in three of easyJet pilots in the UK.

With the restrictions on people flying, it says it needs fewer staff and fewer planes, and is set to close its hubs at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, The Mirror reports.

The company warned last month it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to 30 per cent to help “optimise its network and bases as a result of the crisis”.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, said: “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.”

The company said it has now informed all employees who may be directly affected by the proposals, with staff placed on consultation today.

It comes despite the firm being handed a £600 million loan from the UK taxpayer under the government Covid Corporate Financing Facility.

Brian Strutton, Balpa General Secretary, 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.

“EasyJet paid £174 million out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, got £600 million from the government, has boasted of having £2.4 billion in liquidity, and ticket sales are going through the roof so fast they cannot get pilots back off furlough quickly enough – so why the panic?

“It doesn’t add up. We are meeting easyJet today and we will be fighting to save every single job.

“This is more evidence that aviation in the UK is caught in a death spiral of despair and individual airlines are flailing around without direction.”

Easyjet – owned by billionaire Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou – prepares to restart flights to Europe, with plans to serve 75 per cent of its network by August.

From July 1, easyJet will operate around 500 flights per days across its European network, including over 900 flights per week to and from the UK.

Services are due to resume for the first time since all flights were grounded at the end of March.

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