Up to a third of Easyjet’s pilot roles are at risk of redundancy as the low-budget carrier seeks to cut costs after the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline revealed today that it had begun consultation with pilots’ union Balpa over the plan to reduce its staff headcount by 30 per cent.
The union said the cuts, which would account for 727 of Easyjet’s 2,300 pilot roles in the UK, were “an excessive overreaction”.
In May the airline announced that it would seek to slash staff due to the pandemic, which forced it to temporarily ground its planes.
With passenger numbers not set to return to 2019 levels until 2023, Easyjet said the proposals included shutting three of its bases at London Stansted, London Southend, and Newcastle.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said the union would be “fighting for every job” when it meets with the union later today.
He questioned the logic of the cuts, saying: “Easyjet paid £174m out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, and got £600m from the government.
“[It] 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”.
Easyjet chief executive Johan Lundgren said that the fall in demand meant the airline would need fewer aircraft in the future.
“Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people”, he said.
“We are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible”
In May the airline said it expects its fleet size at year end 2021 to be at the bottom end of its fleet range at about 302 aircraft, 52 aircraft lower than the anticipated fleet size for 2021 which was previously reported to the market.
Earlier this month the airline returned to the skies after nearly three months, and has announced plans to restart more international flights from July.
It also successfully completed a £419m equity raise last week after a share placing, meaning that largest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has seen his stake in the company fall below 30 per cent.
More to follow.