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Stansted Airport job losses: 376 roles at risk locally among 892 in total as owner MAG looks to cut costs following 91% drop in demand for travel through its three airports




Some 376 mostly front-line roles at Stansted Airport are under threat as owner and operator Manchester Airports Group (MAG) looks to cut costs even further in the wake of rising Covid cases and lack of Government support for the aviation sector.

They are among 892 at risk in total at its three airports – including 465 at Manchester and 51 at East Midlands. In all, about 15% of MAG's total workforce of around 6,000 is affected, mostly in customer service and security.

MAG, the UK’s largest airport group, is to begin talks with trade unions on its proposals to reduce staff costs, which also include adjustments to roles, roster patterns and other measures.

Preparations for the 'new normal' at Stansted Airport during and after the pandemic. Picture: Vikki Lince
Preparations for the 'new normal' at Stansted Airport during and after the pandemic. Picture: Vikki Lince

It follows a 91% drop in demand for travel through its three airports – down from 30.3 million in April to August 2019 to just 2.8 million in the same period this year.

Aviation has been one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic and MAG’s current monthly demand is still 75% below normal levels.

In recent weeks, prospects for a strong recovery over the next 12 months have declined as the virus has re-emerged across the UK and Europe.

Stansted Airport. (42608009)
Stansted Airport. (42608009)

Meanwhile, the absence of dedicated support for the aviation sector, coupled with a lack of progress in introducing testing for UK passengers, has continued to undermine consumer confidence in air travel. Overall passenger demand is not expected to recover fully before 2023-24.

Since the start of the pandemic, MAG has reduced its costs, including asking every employee to take a 10% pay cut for a year and pausing capital investment and non-essential expenditure. The company has reduced the size of its management team and worked with its unions to protect as many jobs as possible.

MAG has made extensive use of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme since its introduction in March. This scheme will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme from the start of November, offering employers a much smaller contribution to meeting payroll costs for a six-month period.

The reduction in Government financial support, combined with a more challenging outlook, means that MAG now needs to propose further steps to reduce the size of its workforce to secure the long-term future of the business.

Preparations for the 'new normal' at Stansted Airport during and after the pandemic. Picture: Vikki Lince
Preparations for the 'new normal' at Stansted Airport during and after the pandemic. Picture: Vikki Lince

All of its proposed measures will be subject to consultation with unions and staff at Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive officer, said: “By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand. Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened.

“With uncertainty about when a vaccine will be widely available, we need to be realistic about when demand is likely to recover.

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish
MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish

“The end of the Job Retention Scheme means that we have to consider the number of roles that we can sustain at our airports.

“We will be discussing these issues with our trade unions and consulting them fully on a range of options for reducing the size and overall cost of our workforce. We want to work with them to make sure we minimise the impact on our people as much as we can.

“I want to thank everyone across MAG for the dedication they have shown through the toughest summer our industry has ever seen. MAG and other UK airports remain fundamentally strong businesses that will play an important role in driving the country’s recovery, but the specific and short-term pressures of the pandemic are exceptional and particularly challenging for our sector.

“We are proud of our long-standing role in supporting communities around our airports and underpinning the employment of more than 130,000 people across the UK. We will continue to work to protect as many jobs as possible, maintain dialogue with our trade unions and continue to make the case to Government for the direct support that UK aviation needs.”



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