Easyjet to cut flights, routes and up to 4,500 jobs due to coronavirus

Much of Easyjet's aircraft fleet has been grounded during the coronavirus pandemic (Getty Images)Much of Easyjet's aircraft fleet has been grounded during the coronavirus pandemic (Getty Images)
Much of Easyjet's aircraft fleet has been grounded during the coronavirus pandemic (Getty Images)

Up to 4,500 easyJet staff could be laid off according to plans announced by the airline.

The low-budget giant said that it is looking to reduce its workforce by 30% due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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This Luton-based carrier is following in the footsteps of Ryanair and British Airways.

EasyJet currently employs 15,000 staff - including 8,000 in the UK - meaning as many as 4,500 could be affected by the cuts.

The company will also look to streamline its choice of flights and routes, as it looks to cut costs with UK airports.  It's unclear which routes would be affected

The move comes days after the UK government announced that it would be introducing a 14 day quarantine for those visiting and returning to the UK.

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'It's a horrible thing'

Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren described the situation as "horrible".

He said: "It's a horrible thing. EasyJet is built on absolutely fantastic people, and clearly this is going to have an impact on some of those.

"But we do it to make sure that easyJet not only survives through this period, but also comes out of this as a strong and competitive company."

He added: "This is still the worst crisis that this industry has ever been faced with. There's a huge amount of uncertainty going forward."

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Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, responded to the news, saying that pilots would be shocked.

"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."

Quarantine criticised

Many in the airline industry have criticised the introduction of a 14 day quarantine period.

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Kevin Ducksbury, Chairman of The Air Charter Association criticised the move on behalf of the industry.

He said: "The Air Charter Association is both surprised and disappointed that the UK Government has introduced this new policy after virtually no discussions or consultations with key stakeholders in the most affected part of the aviation industry – the air charter sector.

 "The resulting blanket quarantine policy reveals a limited understanding of all sectors of the aviation industry, features inconsistencies that discriminate against aviation professionals, and, in the case of the global air charter industry, prevents high-priority travel by decision makers that is vital to the UK’s recovery and future prosperity.

"This is particularly poignant as we now head towards an inevitable recession and the end of the Brexit transition period."

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He added: "These new measures serve only to further damage the aviation industry, threatening the future of many airlines, business aircraft operators, airports, handling agents, maintenance and engineering teams, and the wider supporting businesses in the sector."