| 12.7°C Belfast

Northern Ireland jobs at risk as easyJet culls 4,500 staff


Thousands of easyJet staff are to lose their jobs under plans announced by the airline (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Thousands of easyJet staff are to lose their jobs under plans announced by the airline (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Uncertainty: Johan Lundgren

Uncertainty: Johan Lundgren

Thousands of easyJet staff are to lose their jobs under plans announced by the airline (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Dozens of jobs could be at risk in Northern Ireland as airline easyJet announced plans to shed thousands of staff.

Almost 300 people in Northern Ireland work for the Luton-based low-cost airline.

The shock news comes just days after easyJet said it intended to resume flights from Belfast International Airport from 15 June to destinations including London Gatwick and Edinburgh, as well as Faro in Portugal's Algarve.

The airline now says it intends to cut 30% of its workforce as it cuts the size of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Up to 4,500 easyJet staff could lose their jobs under the plans.

This follows similar moves by other airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair.

EasyJet has around 15,000 full-time employees - including 8,000 based in the UK.

The low-cost airline's chief executive, Johan Lundgren, told reporters: "It's a horrible thing to have to do.

"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 in this business going forward."

EasyJet does not expect demand to return to 2019 levels until 2023.

The airline is planning for its capacity between July and September to be only 30% of what it was during the same period last year.

By the end of September next year, it expects to have reduced its fleet size by around 51 aircraft to approximately 302.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, said easyJet staff will be "shocked at the scale of this announcement".

"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.

Oliver Richardson, of major trade union Unite, called on the UK Government to support the airline: "The statement from easyJet follows the announcements of proposed job losses by other airlines and again demonstrates why it is imperative that the Government urgently brings forward a bespoke plan to provide assistance to the UK's aviation sector.

"Aviation is strategically crucial for the long-term economic success of the country.

"Aviation needs urgent financial support to overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it cannot simply be left to the market to sort out.

"It is the sector most affected, with flights being effectively halted.

"And without Government support, the sector will take decades to recover, seriously damaging the local and regional economies which rely on aviation for their financial success."

Belfast Telegraph