Coronavirus: EasyJet cuts thousands of jobs as workforce reduced by 30 per cent

The UK carrier is making the dramatic cuts to its fleet in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 11, 2020 Easyjet aircraft stand on the apron the departure gates at Manchester Airport in Manchester, northern England where they have begun a trial of body temperature screening during the COVID-19 pandemic. British no-frills airline EasyJet said on May 28, 2020, that it will axe up to 4,500 jobs, or 30 percent of its workforce, as coronavirus ravages demand and grounds planes worldwide. 
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Thousands of jobs are to be cut at the British airline EasyJet as the carrier announces a 30 per cent reduction in its workforce due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At most, 4,500 jobs of the airline’s 15,000 full-time employees could be at risk under the plans to cut the size of the EasyJet fleet.

The move from the Luton-based budget carrier follows similar decisions from British Airways and Ryanair.

"We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long term,” the airline's chief executive Johan Lundgren said.

"We remain focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term health and success, following the swift action we have taken over the last three months to meet the challenges of the virus.

"Although we will restart flying on 15 June, we expect demand to build slowly, only returning to 2019 levels in about three years' time.

"Against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases."

EasyJet has said it expects its fleet of aircraft to be reduced by 51 aeroplanes to 302. To reach this fleet size some new aircraft arrivals will be deferred.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, said staff at EasyJet would be shocked by the announcement and criticised the airline for making a “knee-jerk reaction”.

"Given EasyJet is a British company, the UK is its strongest market and it has had hundreds of millions in support from the UK taxpayer, I can safely say that we will need a lot of convincing that EasyJet needs to make such dramatic cuts," he said.

"Indeed, EasyJet’s own projections, though on the pessimistic side, point to recovery by 2023 so this is a temporary problem that doesn't need this ill-considered knee-jerk reaction."

EasyJet will start an employee consultation process “over the coming days”, as it implements job cuts.

The no-frills carrier is the latest among global airlines cutting jobs to control costs as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the aviation industry across the globe. The pandemic has forced carriers to go from growth to survival mode within a matter of months. The outbreak is expected to cut airlines’ passenger revenue by more than half, or about $314 billion (Dh1.15 trillion) this year, according to the International Air Transport Association, which said about 25 million jobs in the sector are at risk.