The closure of easyJet’s hub at Newcastle Airport has come closer after the airline said there was no alternative to the plans.
Staff and union members will protest at the airport tomorrow over the plans, which are set to see more than 150 people lose their jobs.
The budget airline began a 45-day consultation with staff at the end of June over plans to shut its Newcastle base, along with similar proposals at Stansted and Southend.
EasyJet insists the consultation with unions is still ongoing, but an email to staff says that “these discussions have not resulted in an alternative solution with respect to the proposed reductions communicated week commencing Monday 29 June specifically with regards to the proposed closures of Newcastle, Southend and Stansted.”
The email adds that staff at the three earmarked bases are at risk of redunancy and “there will be no selection process undertaken as your base is proposed to close, although these proposals remain subject to consultation.”
Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: “This is a kick in the teeth for easyJet employees, workers at the affected airports, their passengers and the communities these bases support.
“Unite has tried everything to persuade easyJet to reverse its decision to close the three bases and to consider other options but the company has remained adamant that they are financially unviable.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, easyJet’s priorities have been wrong; they have sought to pay shareholders dividends, secure a multi-million pound Government loan to buy new aircraft, but not to use its cash reserves to defend its own employees’ jobs.
“The decision by the company is heartless and wrong-headed, but these closures demonstrate once again why it is absolutely critical that the Government comes forward with a bespoke package of support for the aviation sector which will protect jobs, airports and regional connectivity.
“A continuing failure by the Government to provide such assistance will inevitably result in thousands of entirely unnecessary job losses and a much-diminished UK aviation sector in a world where competitor countries are moving to protect theirs.”
Unite members will hold a demonstration tomorrow over easyJet’s proposals.
An easyJet spokesman said: “The collective consultation process is still ongoing and no decisions on the proposals to close the base have yet been made.
“We have made good progress with Unite on the collective consultation process, having reached an agreement in principle on redundancy terms and selection criteria in the event the proposals are confirmed and we move towards individual consultation with our cabin crew. We also continue to work constructively with Balpa.”
The potential base closure comes at a time of unpredented problems for the travel and aviation sectors.
Newcastle Airport has itself announced the loss of 34 permanent jobs whie 76 seasonal posts cut were short. Baggage handlers Swissport is looking to cut 300 jobs at the airport.