Budget British airline easyJet is set to cut up to 4,500 jobs following the collapse in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. The cuts will represent 30% of the company’s total workforce.
easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren, said: “We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long-term.
“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. Although we will restart flying on 15 June, we expect demand to build slowly, only returning to 2019 levels in about three years’ time.
“Against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases.”
Lundgren added: “As a result, we anticipate reducing staff numbers by up to 30% across the business and we will continue to remove cost and non-critical expenditure at every level. We will be launching an employee consultation over the coming days. 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.”
Sam Miller, a doctoral researcher at the Data Science Lab at Warwick Business School who has developed a new way to track flight numbers in real-time, said: “These cuts are not surprising in the light of insights gained by listening in to billions of real-time aircraft broadcasts, known as ADS-B messages.
“We found a 49% annual fall in the air industry’s economic output during March 2020. That figures was confirmed by the Office for National Statistics earlier this month.
“Our estimate for April is even more severe – output has fallen 83% compared to the same period last year. The pain experienced by airlines at the moment is crystal clear.”
Professor Loizos Heracleous, an aviation industry expert from Warwick Business School, said: “Airlines have been forced to conserve cash to survive, cutting flights, reducing their workforce, and postponing capital investment.
“However, there is some good news for airlines. As flights resume they will benefit from lower oil prices. More important, social habits including the urge to travel have not changed.
“Provided we find ways to control the virus, through testing, treatment or a vaccine, the industry should be back to pre-pandemic levels within two to three years. Aviation is too essential to wither. It is here to stay and the market system is resilient enough to ensure the industry thrives after this temporary setback.”