EasyJet closes Stansted Airport hub and will shed 1,290 cabin crew jobs
Formal consultations began with staff today following EasyJet’s announcement that it will be making 1,290 cabin crew redundant and will close its hubs at Stansted, Newcastle and Southend airports. In addition, 727 easyJet pilots are at risk of redundancy, according to the pilots’ union Balpa.
Around 80 per cent of easyJet’s UK pilots currently remain furloughed on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme - and the company warned last month of job losses of one-third, to help “optimise its network and bases as a result of the crisis”. EasyJet has seven aircraft based at Stansted Airport, with 335 crew.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren told the BBC: “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.”
Unite, the UK’s leading aviation union, has two issues with the decision.
One is about the perceived lack of support for the sector. The second is what has happened to the recent £600million government loan - and a £174million dividend to shareholders in March, of which £60million was given to founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
“This latest announcement of major job losses in aviation again highlights the failure of the government to provide urgently needed specific support to protect jobs and airports,” said a Unite spokesperson. “This is in stark contrast to many other major countries which have provided multi-billion pound support packages for their aviation industries including France, Germany, Spain and the United States.”
Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: “This is yet another massive blow to the aviation industry and our thoughts are with workers who face losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
“There is no need for this announcement at this time, especially since easyJet has taken a multi-million pounds government loan which it ought to be putting to use defending UK jobs.
“This is a company with its priorities all wrong. It has paid a multi-million dividend to its shareholders, borrowed hundred of millions from the government to buy new aircraft and has fully utilised the jobs retention scheme. It absolutely should not be allowed to make huge redundancies a few weeks later.
“The latest announcement further demonstrates why it is absolutely essential that the government extends its job retention scheme for the aviation sector, which has been one of the industries worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are now more than three months on since the Chancellor promised support for UK aviation.
“The government’s ongoing failure to provide such support is directly resulting in huge job losses throughout the industry and is threatening the viability of airlines and airports alike.”
Unite has produced a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector including airlines and airports to protect the jobs and conditions of workers. Such loans would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring stringent environmental standards to be adopted to radically reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
The airline industry has been one of the hardest hit by the global lockdown, travel regulations and ongoing social distancing regulations. EasyJet will sill operate flights to and from Stansted despite the closure of the hub.