Easyjet has announced plans to cut up to 30 per cent of its workforce, as the carrier warns it may take three years to return to 2019 levels of demand.

The airline said that “To effect the restructure of our business, Easyjet will shortly launch an employee consultation process on proposals to reduce staff numbers by up to 30 per cent, reflecting the reduced fleet, the optimisation of our network and bases, improved productivity as well as the promotion of more efficient ways of working”.

A consultation process will be launched on the plans in the comings days. It follows last month’s warning by British Airways of up to 12,000 redundancies, and Virgin Atlantic’s plans to cut over 3,000 jobs.

Last week Easyjet announced plans to resume selected  flights on June 15, and the carrier said that “booking trends on the resumed flights have been encouraging, and the demand indications for summer 2020 are improving, albeit from a low base”.

The airline added that “Bookings for winter are well ahead of the equivalent point last year, which includes customers who are rebooking coronavirus-disrupted flights for later dates”, but warned that it expects to only fly around 30 per cent of planned capacity in the fourth quarter of FY2020.

“Our commercial planning and data science teams continue to work through different demand scenarios as we move through summer and into winter 2020/21,” Easyjet said.

In April the airline announced plans to defer delivery of at least 24 Airbus aircraft which it was due to receive over the next three years. It will however maintain its £4.5 billion Airbus order for 107 aircraft, despite efforts by founder and largest shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou to force the order to be cancelled.

When the carrier does resume services next month, a number of health and hygiene measures will be implemented, including:

  • Customers, cabin and ground crew will be required to wear masks
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of Easyjet aircraft
  • Availability of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser onboard
  • Initially, no onboard food service

Commenting on the news Johan Lundgren, Easyjet’s CEO 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. Although we will restart flying on June 15, we expect demand to build slowly, only returning to 2019 levels in about three years’ time.

“Against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases. As a result, we anticipate reducing staff numbers by up to 30 per cent across the business and we will continue to remove cost and non-critical expenditure at every level.  We will be launching an employee consultation over the coming days.

“We want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic an even more competitive business than before, so that Easyjet can thrive in the future.”