British low cost airline easyJet on Monday confirmed that it will close three of its bases, after almost 7 weeks of consultation with employee representatives.
EasyJet’s bases at London Stansted, London Southend, and Newcastle will stop operating on Aug. 31.
All flights to and from London Southend, and some flights to and from the other two airports will be cancelled from Sept. 1. Customers will be contacted with options to switch to a different flight, claim a voucher for the full value of their ticket, or request a full refund, easyJet said.
CEO Johan Lundgren said the company had taken “the very difficult decision” because of the “unprecedented impact” of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. He said travel restrictions and quarantine measures are still impacting demand for travel.
The company announced on May 28 that it was planning to cut up to 4,500 jobs and shrink its fleet across Europe.
Also on Monday, one of easyJet’s main competitors, Irish budget airline Ryanair, said it would reduce its flight capacity by 20 percent in September and October. Ryanair said this was due to “notably weakened” demand in the last 10 days.
The consultation process on the base closure proposal, which easyJet said had “significantly reduced” the number of compulsory redundancies, started on June 30 with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) and Unite the union.
“Through the consultation process with Unite 93 percent of our cabin crew who were at risk of redundancy have opted for an enhanced voluntary redundancy package,” easyJet said in a statement.
Others were offered part time and seasonal contracts, base transfers where possible, and unpaid leave.
EasyJet grounded the majority of its fleet on March 24 due to “country lockdowns, travel restrictions, and changes to travel advice across its network.”
Travel picked up recently as the pandemic became less severe in Europe and the holiday season started.
However, after Britain added France to the list of destinations that holidaymakers needed to self quarantine from, 160,000 Britons swarmed planes, trains, and ferries, trying to return home early to avoid the quarantine. It was another blow to already low consumer confidence.