A union has urged Stormont to step in after it emerged that 287 Swissport jobs are under threat in Northern Ireland.
Thousands of jobs are set to be lost at the airport handling giant as a result of the impact on air travel caused by the pandemic.
The company told staff yesterday that up to 4,556 jobs could be cut - over half its UK workforce. Chief executive Jason Holt said the company had to reduce its workforce to survive.
The collapse in air travel means its revenue is forecast to be almost 50% lower than last year. Unite said protective notice had been extended to 175 Swissport employees at George Best Belfast City Airport and 112 workers at Belfast International.
The union said Stormont ministers must now intervene to deliver an aviation rescue strategy.
George Brash, Unite's regional officer for Swissport workers at the two Belfast airports, said last night's announcement by Swissport "confirms our worst fears".
"This will be devastating news for these workers and their families. It is also entirely unnecessary - the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme remains in place. These workers could continue to be furloughed. There is no need for any job losses at this time," he said.
"The situation in Belfast City Airport is particularly concerning as the protective notice extends to every single Swissport employee at the airport. Without baggage handlers, gate staff and security desk workers, the airport cannot operate; the scale of this announcement casts a shadow over the future of both Belfast airports, in particular Belfast City."
Mr Holt said in a message to staff: "We must do this to secure the lifeline of funding from lenders and investors to protect as many jobs as possible in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
"We are now facing a long period of uncertainty and reduced flight numbers, along with significant changes taking place to the way people travel and the way goods move around the world."