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EasyJet To Cut 4,500 Jobs In Wake Of Coronavirus

British budget carrier EasyJet has confirmed that it will be making drastic reductions to the size of its workforce in the coming weeks and months due to the impact of the coronavirus, reports AFP.

Optimize Bases, Cut Jobs And Fleet To Save Operations

A spokesperson for the airline told the news agency that up to 4,500 of the carrier’s 15,000 staff could be affected by the cuts.

In a statement quoted by the outlet, CEO Johan Lundgren said, “We are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimize the network and our bases. As a result, we anticipate reducing staff numbers by up to 30 percent across the business and we will continue to remove cost and non-critical expenditure at every level.”

Lundgren explained that these cuts were being made in order to protect EasyJet in the long run.

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,” he added.

Returning To Operation Soon, But Long Road To Recovery

Earlier this month, EasyJet announced that it would be returning to a limited operation of some of its services by June 15th. As with many other global airlines, EasyJet has had its operations seriously curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic. Its entire fleet of planes has been grounded since the end of March.

As Lundgren explained, the airline will be on a long road to recovery.

Although we will restart flying on 15 June, we expect demand to build slowly, only returning to 2019 levels in about three years’ time. 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,” he added.

In terms of any future financial outlook, the news agency has quoted the airline as stating, “At this stage, given the level of continued uncertainty, it is not possible to provide financial guidance for the remainder of the 2020 financial year.”

It added, “…we continue to take every step necessary to reduce cost, conserve cash burn, enhance liquidity, protect the business and ensure it is best positioned on our return to flying.”

Union Concerned Over Job Cuts

Though EasyJet has defended its decision to cut jobs, its decision has been met with concern from British labor body Unite, which represents more than 68,000 workers within the aviation industry.

Commenting on the decision, Lindsey Olliver, Unite’s officer for the airline, said in a statement, “The announcement that easyJet is planning to make 30 percent of its workforce redundant is an unnecessarily hasty decision…Unite has not yet been consulted about EasyJet’s plans and does not at this stage have details about where in the business the job losses are planned. Unite will be seeking clarification from the company and will maintain that any proposals to reduce jobs could and should be delayed.”