Manchester Airport owner could cut over 800 jobs on virus hit

900 jobs to go at Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports as fall out from coronavirus batters travel industry

  • Proposed cuts include 465 at Manchester, 376 at Stansted , 51 at East Midlands
  • Manchester Airports Group said the demand in travel was down by 90 per cent 
  • MAG blame lack of progress in introducing testing for UK passengers for job cuts

Plans to axe 900 jobs at Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports have been announced as fall out from coronavirus batters the travel industry.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – which owns hubs at Manchester, Stansted and the East Midlands – said it is having to take action because there simply isn’t the demand in travel. 

They added the lack of progress on testing had discouraged people from travelling because the prospect of a two-week quarantine was not practical.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – which owns hubs at Manchester, Stansted and the East Midlands – plans to axe 900 jobs (pictured Manchester Airport)

The group said it was proposing to cut 465 jobs at Manchester, 376 at Stansted and 51 at East Midlands. Other employment changes such as shift patterns will also be made. 

The announcement was made as the Department for Transport revealed a new taskforce would be recruited to help the industry to minimise 14-day quarantine times through testing. 

However, this was little consolation for the aviation industry as no timeframe was given to implement the new regime.

MAG said demand was down by 90 per cent since March and chances of an increase were slim until at least 2023-24.

It added the resurgence in coronavirus cases across the UK and Europe wasn’t helping matters either. 

The group said: ‘Meanwhile, the absence of dedicated support for the aviation sector, coupled with a lack of progress in introducing testing for UK passengers to date, has continued to undermine consumer confidence in air travel for next year.’

The company said it had taken every measure possible to minimise job cuts making use of the government’s job retention scheme, cutting salaries by 10 per cent and freezing spending plans.

MAG said the absence of dedicated support for the aviation sector, coupled with a lack of progress in introducing testing for UK passengers to date, has continued to undermine consumer confidence in air travel

But with the generous furlough subsidy coming to an end and being replaced by a much smaller contribution to meeting payroll costs’ from November, has led the company to act. 

‘The reduction in government financial support, combined with a more challenging outlook, means that MAG now needs to propose further steps to reduce the size of its workforce to secure the long-term future of the business,’ the company said in a statement.

Chief executive Charlie Cornish said: ‘By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand.

‘Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened.

‘With uncertainty about when a vaccine will be widely available, we need to be realistic about when demand is likely to recover.’

Lawrence Chapple-Gill from the Unite trade union said: ‘These job losses are an inevitable consequence of the government’s failure to provide sector specific support to the aviation industry, the sector which has been most heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.’   

Since the summer, the aviation industry has been urging the government to ‘ introduce a testing regime to try to shorten the two-week quarantine period for passengers arriving from countries not on the UK’s safe list.

Launching the government’s coronavirus testing taskforce, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘The current measures at the border have saved lives.  

MAG said it had taken every measure possible to minimise job cuts making use of the government’s job retention scheme, cutting salaries by 10 per cent and freezing spending plans. (Pictured Stansted Airport)

‘Our understanding of the science now means we can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate our world-leading travel sector.’  

The DfT said the taskforce would look at the possibility of ‘proposals based on a single test taken after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the cost of the passenger’.

The chief executives of Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airports Group, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic said in a joint statement that it was a ‘step in the right direction… to restart the economy and protect thousands of jobs’.

They added: ‘We support the decision to opt for a single test, private sector-led, passenger-funded approach, that does not impact on the NHS in any way.

‘But travellers need a firm commitment that a comprehensive testing regime will be implemented in early November.’

The International Air Transport Association, an industry body, said: ‘The proposals on the table do not go as far as we had hoped.

‘A reduction in the length of quarantine is the very minimum needed to restart travel demand.’  

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