EasyJet has announced it will axe 5,000 staff members (Picture: PA)

EasyJet has announced it will lay off 5,000 staff and potentially close three of its airport hubs.

The travel giant, which says it will aim to minimise job losses ‘as far as possible’, said the changes are being made as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company proposes the potential closure of three of its UK bases – in Stansted, Southend and Newcastle – although they will still be used as part of EasyJet’s route network.

An EasyJet spokesperson said: ‘As part of our update to the market on May 28 EasyJet set out that it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to 30% as well as optimise its network and bases as a result of the pandemic.

‘EasyJet has today started formal consultation on proposals with employee representatives including Balpa and Unite on all of its UK based pilots and crew. 

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‘The proposals include the potential closing of three of its bases in the UK – London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle. These airports would remain part of EasyJet’s route network.

‘We have also informed all employees who may be directly affected by these proposals and will be providing full support to our people during this difficult time. 

‘We are fully committed to work closely with our employee representatives during these consultations with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.’

Picture of Stansted Airport inside
Stansted Airport, in Essex, may no longer be one of EasyJet’s airport hubs (Picture: PA)

The spokesperson added the levels of demand it saw in 2019 are not likely to be reached again until 2023.

Chief executive of EasyJet, Johan Lundgren, said: ‘These are very difficult proposals to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time for the airline and the industry as a whole.

‘We are focused on doing what is right for the company and its long term health and success so we can protect jobs going forward.

‘Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people – we are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.

‘These proposals are no reflection on our people at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, who have all worked tirelessly and have been fully committed to providing great service for our customers.’

Stock image of EastJet planes
It is thought 727 cockpit crew could face redundancy (Picture: Shutterstock / Markus Mainka)

EasyJet has informed the trade union for pilots, Balpa, that 727 of its cockpit crew are at risk of redundancy.

The company currently has 163 aircraft in the UK at 11 bases, serving 546 routes and flying more than 52 million passengers to and from the UK every year.

It says it will ‘continue to review its network and bases to ensure they are optimised in the current environment’.

Airport hubs are the main bases airlines fly from. At the moment Southend, Stansted and Newcastle are three of those hubs for EasyJet, so a larger number of flights go through them.

If they are removed as bases they will still be on EasyJet routes, but there may be fewer flights from them in future.

The news comes after the company restarted flights on June 15 after 11 weeks with no operations.

EasyJet’s boss has insisted he would ‘feel 100% safe’ as he explained how passengers and crew are required to wear masks, aircraft will be regularly deep-cleaned and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser will be made available.

The company grounded its aircraft on March 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Mr Lundgren saying not operating a single flight in nearly three months has been ‘devastating’.

Mr Lundgren said the Luton-based carrier has taken guidance from international regulators to develop an enhanced safety and hygiene regime for its resumption of flights.

Before travelling on his first flight he was asked if he would be anxious about his health if the plane is full. He replied: ‘I would feel 100% safe.

‘The recommendations that we’ve implemented have been defined together with international regulators Easa (European Aviation Safety Agency), ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and also our own company’s medical doctors and expertise.’

Other airlines are also struggling as a result of the pandemic, with British Airways bosses admitting up to 12,000 staff could be laid off and cabin crew also face a pay cut.

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It is also rumoured Boris Johnson is on the cusp of announcing people living in the UK will be able to holiday in a number of European destinations from July 4.

He will allegedly give the go-ahead for foreign holidays in the coming days, with air bridges to ten countries in Europe set to be announced.

Trips to France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey without the need for a 14-day quarantine may be possible but trips to the US and South America might not be allowed for some time.

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Source: Metro