How easyJet Is Responding To The Coronavirus Crisis

easyJet’s attempts to make ends meet during the current period of uncertainty has been met with anger from pilot and staff unions. The airline proposed a series of changes that would help avoid redundancies. However, unions have told their members that an agreement has not yet been reached and counter-proposals would be presented to the airline soon.

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easyJet proposals to avoid redundancy have been rejected by unions. Photo: Getty Images

The proposals

The budget airline has proposed a set of temporary changes for pilots and cabin crew which should save enough money to avoid laying off staff. Changes include a freeze on planned pay rises and three months of unpaid leave. The airline would also no longer provide food for cabin crew during shifts, just water.

While unions and staff insist that they are eager to find a middle-ground and avoid redundancies, the current measures have been rejected by unions. Talks are continuing today in a desperate attempt to find a solution. The airline is seeking financial aid from the UK government as the effect of coronavirus causes chaos.

The proposed changes mean that the pay rise would be restricted until 2021. Schedules are ever-changing at this difficult time and easyJet has asked that it be allowed to continue to make significant changes to working patterns. It also wants to defer pay increases for some promotions.

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Flybe couldn’t survive the impact of coronavirus and easyJet is trying to avoid the same fate. Photo: Getty

Union response

Pilots, cabin crew and unions all say the proposals are unnecessary. The BBC is reporting that unions believe that there is “no evidence that the current crisis warrants such an extensive change in terms and conditions for such a long period”.

easyJet has been forced to ground over a third of its fleet as travel restrictions mean many flights are canceled. Unions are arguing that once restrictions are lifted and the airline is operating at full capacity again there will be no need for such extreme precautions.

Some unions have even voiced concerns that the airline is using the current situation as an excuse to pass through money-saving measures. The deal, if accepted, would be inforced today and would continue until the 15th of November 2021.

Unions BALPA and Unite have both said they would be willing to strike a deal to help save jobs but that the current deal was not good enough. Unite went as far as saying that redundancies were currently the better option. In a statement the union said that talks were ongoing; “Unite is very much still in talks with easyJet and it is totally untrue to suggest the union has rejected all the company’s proposals”.

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Talks with crew unions have failed so far but the crew are willing to accept cutbacks to save jobs. Photo: Getty Images

Other measures

EasyJet has said that saving money is the main aim here. However, the airline’s chief executive also said,

Since we don’t know how long this thing will last we also think it’s appropriate that we’re also looking for financing being supported as well from the government.”

The airline recently found itself in a sticky situation when it emerged that it had paid a £170 million ($199m) dividend to shareholders. After coming under fire, the airline clarified that the dividends had already been signed off and therefore legally had to be paid.

Although several key figures within the business have agreed to pay cuts, the airline is clearly still in trouble. It is currently not offering refunds for canceled flights, instead choosing to allow customers to rebook for a later date. It even released its winter schedule early so travelers had a wider choice of flights. While this means it isn’t losing money on already-booked flights, it does mean there are several disgruntled customers. Those who no longer need flights are unlikely to be refunded.

What do you think of easyJet’s money-saving measures? Are they doing the right thing to stay afloat or should they be doing more for their staff and customers? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.