East Midlands Airport is planning to cut 51 jobs following a 90 per cent drop in passenger numbers.
With little hope of the travel sector recovering in the short-term, the Castle Donington Airport is looking at cuts in areas such as security, car parking and passenger services.
It is part of wide ranging redundancies announced by the airport’s parent group, which could see 465 jobs go at Manchester Airport and 376 roles cut at London Stansted.
A total of 892 jobs are at risk.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which operates all three airports, said the latest spike in the virus, combined with an “absence of dedicated support for the aviation sector” and a lack of testing for UK passengers, had undermined passenger confidence in air travel for the next year.
It also warned of “adjustments” to roles, roster patterns and “other employment measures” as it attempts to deal with the devastating impact of the pandemic’s impact on travel habits.
Between April and August, some 2.8 million passengers travelled through its three airports – compared to 30.3 million in the same period last year.
Overall passenger demand, it said, was not expected to recover before 2023-24.
The decline in passengers has already led to job losses among firms with operations at the airport such as baggage handling giant Swissport and Jet 2.
Unite – the main aviation union – also blamed the job losses on the government’s failure to provide support to the sector.
It is now working with Manchester airport to mitigate job losses, pressing the company to use the government’s new job support scheme to save jobs and attempting to ensure that redundancies are voluntary rather than compulsory.
East Midlands Airport has, however, benefitted from a recent spike in pure freight traffic – up 20 per cent due to the rise in online shopping and companies desperate for cargo flights as the amount of spare freight space in the bellies of passenger jets dropped.
Group 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.
“The end of the Job Retention Scheme means that we have to consider the number of roles that we can sustain at our airports.
“We will be discussing these issues with our trade unions, and consulting them fully on a range of options for reducing the size and overall cost of our workforce.
“We want to work with them to make sure we minimise the impact on our people as much as we can.
“I want to thank everyone across MAG for the dedication they have shown through the toughest summer our industry has ever seen.
“MAG and other UK airports remain fundamentally strong businesses that will play an important role in driving the country’s recovery, but the specific and short term pressures of the pandemic are exceptional and particularly challenging for our sector.
“We are proud of our long-standing role in supporting communities around our airports and underpinning the employment of more than 130,000 people across the UK.
“We will continue to work to protect as many jobs as possible, maintain dialogue with our trade unions, and continue to make the case to government for the direct support that UK aviation needs.”
Since the start of the pandemic, MAG has taken other steps to reduce costs, including 10 per cent pay cuts for a year and pausing capital investment and non-essential spending.
It has already reduced the size of its management team, and said it was working with trade unions to protect as many jobs as possible.
As part of this, MAG has made extensive use of the government’s Job Retention Scheme since its introduction in March.
This scheme will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme from the beginning of November, offering employers a much smaller contribution to meeting payroll costs for a six-month period.
All proposed measures will be subject to consultation with MAG’s unions and staff across East Midlands Airports, Manchester and Stansted.
Lawrence Chapple-Gill, Unite regional co-ordinating officer, said: “This announcement will come as a bitter blow to the hard working staff at Manchester airport.
“They and their families now face a very difficult and unsettling time but Unite will support them every step of the way.
“Unite will do everything it can to reduce job losses and seek to ensure that any eventual redundancies are voluntary and not compulsory in nature.
“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.”
He said confidence in the industry would return once Covid-19 was under control, adding: “It is a total failure of government to not be assisting the industry and its workforce through this crisis in order to ensure it can quickly recover when the virus abates.
“The chancellor first promised sector support in March. An aviation recovery plan was promised last month. Nothing has materialised and job losses are increasing by the day.”