EasyJet To Cut Thousands Of Jobs And Shrink Fleet

Budget airline easyJet has announced this morning that it could be looking to ax as many as 4,500 workers in a bid to trim costs. The airline said that 30% of its workforce could go, along with a number of its aircraft. This comes just days after shareholders voted against Sir Stelios Haji Ioannou’s bid to oust senior executives at the company.

Easyjet carbon neutral getty images
easyJet has announced huge job losses. Photo: Getty Images

Thousands of jobs could go

UK low-cost carrier easyJet has revealed plans today to cut thousands of jobs. The airline has confirmed it could be looking to trim as many as 30% of its workforce in a bid to cut costs to get it through the coronavirus crisis.

Although the airline has not mentioned specific numbers, the BBC says its workforce numbered 15,000 at the start of the year. This would mean as many as 4,500 jobs could be lost at the airline. In a statement seen by Simple Flying, chief executive Johan Lundgren said,

“We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long term.

“We remain focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term health and success, following the swift action we have taken over the last three months to meet the challenges of the virus.”

The airline plans to restart operations in just over two weeks. Photo: easyJet

easyJet has planned to resume flying on June 15th, but with a much-reduced network. The UK government’s plan to quarantine arriving passengers from June 8th has quashed any hope the airline may have had to snag some summer holiday traffic.

Fleet reductions planned

The Luton headquartered airline has further announced plans to reduce the size of its aircraft fleet. The Airbus-only airline previously operated 338 aircraft, all of the A320 family, but is looking to bring this down to just over 300 aircraft by the end of 2021.

easyJet had already put in place a deferral of new aircraft deliveries from Airbus. 114 new planes, all A320neo family jets, are on order for the group, with 24 due to be delivered in the next 24 months. But, as the coronavirus crisis began to bite, the airline secured approval to defer these deliveries until after 2022.

The airline operates an all-Airbus fleet. Photo: easyJet

Now, it seems the airline will return with a smaller fleet, citing a predicted long term travel downturn as the reason for the trim. easyJet has said it doesn’t see travel returning to 2019 levels until at least 2023.

BALPA describe it as a ‘knee jerk reaction’

The job losses forecast at easyJet come as no big surprise, as other UK headquartered airlines have announced similar cuts. However, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) Is not happy with the move, calling it an “ill-considered knee jerk reaction.” BALPA general secretary Brian Sutton told the BBC,

“EasyJet staff will be shocked at the scale of this announcement and only two days ago, staff got a ‘good news’ message from their boss with no mention of job losses, so this is a real kick in the teeth.

“Those staff have taken pay cuts to keep the airline afloat and this is the treatment they get in return. EasyJet has not discussed its plans with Balpa, so we will wait and see what impact there will be in the UK.

“EasyJet’s own projections, though on the pessimistic side, point to recovery by 2023, so this is a temporary problem that doesn’t need this ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.”

easyJet grounding grounded aircraft
BALPA thinks the move is a ‘kick in the teeth’. Photo: Getty Images

The news comes just days after easyJet resolved its own internal issues with founder and major shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Sir Stelios had moved to vote to oust several executives, including Johan Lundgren, over the order with Airbus. Shareholders voted down his motion, keeping the executives’ jobs safe for now.

However, just yesterday, it was revealed that Andrew Findlay, easyJet finance chief, had voluntarily resigned from the company just days after securing his position. easyJet is also grappling with the fallout from a data breach last week that saw more than nine million passengers’ data compromised.

It’s a tough time for the British budget airline, and with no clear path back to profitability on the horizon yet, it looks to remain tough for some time to come.