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EasyJet to cut a third of workforce

Written by: Emma Lunn
Up to 30% of EasyJet staff could lose their jobs due to coronavirus.

EasyJet is to slash its workforce, with about 4,500 of the budget airline’s 15,000 staff set to leave the company.

The job losses were announced in an easyJet statement titled “capacity, fleet and cost structure plans”.

To restructure the business, the budget airline will launch an employee consultation process in the coming days. The consultation will look at reducing staff numbers, reducing the airline’s fleet, the optimisation of its network and bases, and improved productivity.

EasyJet grounded its entire fleet on 30 March due to the pandemic.

EasyJet announced last week that it will resume flying on 15 June, servicing a small number of routes where it believes there is sufficient customer demand to support profitable flying. The initial schedule will comprise mainly domestic flying in the UK and France.

Further routes will be announced as customer demand increases and government restrictions cross Europe are relaxed.

EasyJet says the booking trends on the resumed flights have been encouraging, and the demand indications for summer 2020 are improving, albeit from a low base. Bookings for winter are well ahead of the equivalent point last year, which includes customers who are rebooking coronavirus-disrupted flights for later dates.

Regarding fiscal Q4 2020 capacity, current plans are that easyJet expects to fly about 30% of the planned capacity flown in Q4 2019. This will continue to be evaluated reflecting changing regulations and customer demand.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, says: “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.

“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. As a result, we anticipate reducing staff numbers by up to 30% across the business and we will continue to remove cost and non-critical expenditure at every level. We will be launching an employee consultation over the coming days.

“We want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic an even more competitive business than before, so that easyJet can thrive in the future.”

Airlines have criticised the UK Government’s plan to force visitors to quarantine on arrival from 8 June, warning that it will further damage the struggling sector.

British Airways previously announced up to 12,000 job losses due to the pandemic, and Ryanair about 3,000 jobs.

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