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Coronavirus: Stansted Airport set to bring in temporary job and pay cuts in face of 'greatest threat UK travel sector has ever faced'

The company that owns Stansted Airport announced on Monday (March 18) that it is looking to implement temporary job and pay cuts, reduce working hours and enforce annual leave in the face of what it calls “the greatest threat the UK’s travel sector has ever faced”.

It comes on the day that Stansted's biggest airline, Ryanair, said that it is cutting its capacity by up to 80% over the next two months and is warning a "full grounding of the fleet cannot be ruled out".

Charlie Cornish, chief executive officer of MAG (Manchester Airports Group), said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a rapid and unprecedented reduction in demand for air travel in and out of the UK, and MAG airports are seeing much lower passenger numbers as a result.

“We expect demand to return as the Covid-19 peak passes, but this temporary and dramatic downturn requires us to act now to protect our position at this critical time.

“Over the next few days we will be consulting with our colleagues and unions and introducing measures to reduce our costs and preserve the group’s resources at this critical time. These will include enforced annual leave, reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs.

"Our executive team is taking a pay cut with immediate effect and we have frozen recruitment and paused capital expenditure.

“These are difficult decisions for MAG and they have not been taken lightly. We recognise the impact they will have on our people and we will be consulting with our colleagues. Our aim will always be to protect jobs wherever possible, and we need to take these steps now to ensure the company’s future.

“It is too early to predict with any accuracy the long-term effects of this crisis. We are seeing many of our airlines and supply chain partners make similar announcements and we are doing what we need to do in the face of an unpredictable and fast-moving situation.

“Over the past decades, the aviation industry has been one of this country’s success stories. We provide vital services to the economy and to regions dependent on air connectivity. Aviation is also essential to some of our most important industries and in forging trading relationships.

“I am in no doubt that this outbreak is the greatest threat the UK’s travel sector has ever faced. Government needs to take decisive action now to make clear its total and unwavering support for airports, airlines and other travel companies.

"The UK depends on air travel to supports its economy. The Government must stand behind the aviation industry to make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and make further announcements on MAG’s operations as the Covid-19 situation develops.”

Stansted is the fourth largest airport in the UK, serving 28 million passengers a year. It is the market leader for short-haul flights to mainland Europe, serving 200 destinations across 40 countries – more scheduled connections to Europe than any other airport in the world apart from Munich. Passengers can also access Emirates' global network of over 150 destinations via daily direct flights to the airline’s Dubai hub.

London Stansted can serve up to 43 million passengers a year and is forecast to deliver up to 50% of London’s expected passenger growth over the next decade. The airport is currently delivering a multi-million-pound investment programme to significantly transform the passenger experience by improving facilities and services.

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