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EasyJet set to shut base at Stansted Airport but flights will continue

Budget airline EasyJet has started consultation to shut its base for aircraft and staff at Stansted Airport as it considers cutting a third of its workforce.

A spokesman for MAG (Manchester Airports Group), which operates the Uttlesford hub, said: "Covid-19 has had a huge impact on air travel over the last few months, forcing airlines to make changes to the way they operate in response to these extraordinary circumstances.

"EasyJet's decision not to base aircraft at Stansted is another example of the impact that the pandemic is currently having on the aviation industry.

EasyJet flight
EasyJet flight

"EasyJet accounted for 9% of our passengers last year using a mix of based and non-based aircraft.

"We look forward to working with EasyJet to retain routes that are operated by aircraft based elsewhere in their network and growing their operation at Stansted again in the future.

"As the global aviation industry now heads into a recovery phase, we have been encouraged by the commitment to Stansted shown by our major carriers and those who are relatively recent arrivals to the airport, and continue to be in active discussions with a large number of other new carriers about commencing operations with us."

Ryanair plane (37556985)
Ryanair plane (37556985)

EasyJet has begun consultation to close its other Essex base, at Southend, and Newcastle, but, like Stansted, they will remain part of its route network. Before lockdown, it had seven aircraft at Stansted, where it has operated since May 1998.

The airline's Stansted workforce includes three employees and 335 crew flying 27 routes, with up to 210 departures a week and 2.8 million passengers a year.

It is reported that the airline, which predicts passenger numbers will not bounce back to 2019 levels until 2023, expects to cut between 4,500 and 5,000 jobs across its operation, including around 1,900 UK employees.

Pilots' union Balpa said it had been told by EasyJet that 727 – a third – of its UK-based pilots were at risk of redundancy.

EasyJet chief executive 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 London Stansted, who have all worked tirelessly and have been fully committed to providing great service for our customers.”

On Wednesday (July 1), Ryanair, Stansted's biggest carrier, is ramping up its services at the airport and elsewhere across Europe with 1,000 flights a day.

The airport spokesman said: "We look forward to welcoming more passengers back to London Stansted and encourage the Government to continue to take a risk-based approach to quarantine arrangements and, where possible, build air bridges to key tourism and business destinations with low infection rates. Each one will help protect jobs and preserve billions of pounds worth of economic activity in the UK."

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