EASYJET has said it will cut up to 30% of its workforce due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.

Even though an exact number was not mentioned, it would amount to around 4,500 jobs, as the airline employed 15,000 people at the start of the year.

The Luton based airline said: “To effect the restructure of our business, EasyJet will shortly launch an employee consultation process on proposals to reduce staff numbers by up to 30%, reflecting the reduced fleet, the optimisation of our network and bases, improved productivity as well as the promotion of more efficient ways of working.”

Chief Executive, Johan Lundgren said that the airline was planning to reduce the size of its fleet and would continue to cut costs.

“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 want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic as an even more competitive business than before, so that EasyJet can thrive in the future.”

This comes after the low cost airline announced that it will be resuming its flight schedule from June 15.

Balpa, a pilots union reacted angrily, describing the move as an ‘ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.’

“EasyJet staff will be shocked at the scale of this announcement and only two days ago, staff got a ‘good news’ message from their boss with no mention of job losses, so this is a real kick in the teeth,” said Brian Strutton of Balpa.

“Those staff have taken pay cuts to keep the airline afloat and this is the treatment they get in return. 

“EasyJet has not discussed its plans with Balpa, so we will wait and see what impact there will be in,” he added.

“EasyJet’s own projections, though on the pessimistic side, point to recovery by 2023, so this is a temporary problem that doesn’t need this ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.”

Lindsey Olliver, the EasyJet officer for the Unite union, said the airline had made ‘an unnecessarily hasty decision.’

She added: “The workforce is currently furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme and the airline will continue to receive support until at least October.

“It has also received a government-backed loan of €668 million and has committed to expenditure on new aircrafts.”

This comes after two rival airlines also announced job cuts, with British Airways announcing it plans to cut 12,000 jobs and Ryanair another 3,000.

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