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EasyJet closing bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The budget airline is proposing to completely close its bases at the three airports, putting 727 pilots at risk of redundancy.

The move is part of a huge restructuring at EasyJet following the global coronavirus pandemic.

Under the proposals the airline will shut its hubs at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports, although the airports will remain on the route map. One in three pilots will be made redundant.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) says its “shocked” at the scale of the potential job losses.

Brian Strutton, BALPA general secretary, says: “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 £174m out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, got £600m from the Government, has boasted of having £2.4bn 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.”

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

The union repeated its call for the Government to step in, provide a strategy and back a moratorium on job losses.

EasyJet warned last month that it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to 30%  as a result of the pandemic. The company said formal consultations about redundancies will start on Tuesday.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, says: “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.”

About 80% of easyJet’s UK pilots currently remain furloughed on the Coronavirus job retention scheme.