EasyJet to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle along with over 700 pilots made redundant

ainsworth74

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Not good news from EasyJet today:

Budget airline easyJet is preparing to place 727 pilots on redundancy and axe three major UK airport bases as part of a huge restructuring following the global coronavirus pandemic.

The company said hundreds of pilot positions are at risk - with formal consultations starting on Tuesday.

It comes after the low-cost airline warned it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to 30% back in May, to help "optimise its network and bases as a result of the crisis".

Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, said:“These are very difficult proposals to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time for the airline and the industry as a whole. We are focused on doing what is right for the company and its long term health and success so we can protect jobs going forward.

“Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people - we are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.


"These proposals are no reflection on our people at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, who have all worked tirelessly and have been fully committed to providing great service for our customers.”


The company said it has now informed all employees who may be directly affected by the proposals, with staff placed on consultation today.

Union Balpa said it is "shocked at the size of potential job losses" which equates to nearly 1-in-3 of easyJet pilots in the UK.

Brian Strutton, Balpa General Secretary, said: "We know that aviation is in the midst of the COVID crisis and we had been expecting easyJet to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline through to recovery.

"But this seems an excessive over-reaction and easyJet won’t find a supply of pilots waiting to come back when the recovery takes place over the next two years.

"EasyJet paid £174m out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, got £600m from the Government, has boasted of having £2.4bn in liquidity, and ticket sales are going through the roof so fast they cannot get pilots back off furlough quickly enough – so why the panic? It doesn’t add up. We are meeting easyJet today and we will be fighting to save every single job.

"This is more evidence that aviation in the U.K. is caught in a death spiral of despair and individual airlines are flailing around without direction."

Easyjet - owned by billionaire Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou - prepares to restart flights to Europe, with plans to serve 75% of its network by August.

From July 1, easyJet will operate around 500 flights per days across its European network, including over 900 flights per week to and from the UK.

Services are due to resume for the first time since all flights were grounded at the end of March.
 
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WestCoast

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Just looking at this from the competitive angle, I don't think the two 'London area' airports will be affected hugely long-term by this. I suspect Ryanair will be pleased at this news since Stansted is their largest UK base, I can see them replacing many of the lost easyJet routes from Stansted eventually. Ryanair also started a Southend base last year, so I imagine they may well be more inclined to keep flying from there now. easyJet will be wanting to concentrate on its main London area hubs, Luton and Gatwick, to keep competitive against an expanding Wizz Air UK who have said they'll be lauching lots of new routes in compeition with easyJet from Luton and a couple from Gatwick too.

I imagine Newcastle will hit harder long-term by this although I imagine Jet2 will fill in some of the capacity when the industry is in recovery mode.
 
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CC 72100

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Maybe I am being optimistic - or cynical depending on your viewpoint - but I do wonder whether some of the former Stansted & Southend route network will now come to Gatwick given the available capacity at LGW following BA's decision to consolidate their operations to Heathrow?

Surely if you are Easyjet, having operations at Luton and Gatwick (only) is advantageous to Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and Southend.

Edit - it appears WestCoast and myself were thinking along similar lines!
 

WestCoast

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Maybe I am being optimistic - or cynical depending on your viewpoint - but I do wonder whether some of the former Stansted & Southend route network will now come to Gatwick given the available capacity at LGW following BA's decision to consolidate their operations to Heathrow?

Surely if you are Easyjet, having operations at Luton and Gatwick (only) is advantageous to Luton, Gatwick, Stansted and Southend.

Edit - it appears WestCoast and myself were thinking along similar lines!
I definitely suspect so.

easyJet can also serve some routes into the UK using their aircraft/crew bases on the continent, they opened two I think in Spain last year. They could still do routes from Southend, Stansted and Newcastle to Palma Mallorca for instance but serve the routes with their crew and planes based in Palma rather than in the UK, which may offer significant cost savings for them.
 

Jayden99

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Newcastle does really surprise me, it always did a roaring trade in the summer the few times I was called to work from there. The operation there is much smaller than the likes of Jet2 though, and there was always much less in terms of winter trade, whereas Glasgow (a similarly sized regional base and my old stomping ground) had strong domestic demand year round, I guess the summer wasn't enough to offset the winter lull
 

edwin_m

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There's also the issue that their EU-based planes can fly between European countries as well as to the UK, but as far as I'm aware planes from the UK arm will only be allowed to fly to and from the UK from the start of 2021. Certainly when I was using them a fair bit a few years ago there were more and more planes with OE registrations. Having all their planes registered in Ireland, Ryanair doesn't have this problem.
 

Jayden99

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There's also the issue that their EU-based planes can fly between European countries as well as to the UK, but as far as I'm aware planes from the UK arm will only be allowed to fly to and from the UK from the start of 2021. Certainly when I was using them a fair bit a few years ago there were more and more planes with OE registrations. Having all their planes registered in Ireland, Ryanair doesn't have this problem.
Certainly from a crew perspective, crew from EZY UK can only operate on the UK registered aircraft, and likewise for EZY Europe crew. Before Brexit was a thing there was a lot in the way of sending say Gatwick pilots to Tegel to operate, although for the last while that's only been done as an absolute last use and the AOCs are kept pretty separate
 

NorthOxonian

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Not good news for the staff. Definitely good news for the environment; there's too much discretionary flying these days.
Will it be good for the environment? If Newcastle loses a lot of direct connections, then people from round here will need to take two flights to reach their destination (which is worse for the environment than now). They might get the train to Manchester or Edinburgh, but more likely they'd drive which also increases pollution.
 

Bletchleyite

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Will it be good for the environment? If Newcastle loses a lot of direct connections, then people from round here will need to take two flights to reach their destination (which is worse for the environment than now). They might get the train to Manchester or Edinburgh, but more likely they'd drive which also increases pollution.
Are there flights from Newcastle to Edinburgh? Would seem as silly as from Brum to London (which there aren't).
 

NorthOxonian

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Are there flights from Newcastle to Edinburgh? Would seem as silly as from Brum to London (which there aren't).
No, but people might fly from Newcastle to a London airport (for example) to make a connection. Manchester and Edinburgh were examples of airports which passengers could easily reach from Newcastle without flying, if they wanted to make direct flights.
 

edwin_m

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I wonder if this all actually does have something to do with Brexit, i.e. not downsizing, but moving crews and aircraft to EU countries instead?
As I mentioned they've been shifting some of their operations to an EU base, but they are probably still more weighted towards the UK than they would like. Now they need to downsize it's only to be expected that the axe will fall on the UK operations as these are less easy to use flexibly or re-deploy. I fear the same will happen with many other industries as Brexit really starts to bite.
 

Peter Mugridge

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The BBC states that Easyjet will still serve all three of these airports; they just won't be basing any aircraft or crews there.
 

rebmcr

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Will it be good for the environment? If Newcastle loses a lot of direct connections, then people from round here will need to take two flights to reach their destination (which is worse for the environment than now). They might get the train to Manchester or Edinburgh, but more likely they'd drive which also increases pollution.
For the Newcastle-London-Edinburgh triangle, if direct connections are made, that requires (for simplicity) three aircraft. If instead London is used as a hub, only two aircraft are required. No matter what mode the passenger uses, nor how many sides of the triangle they traverse to make their journey, makes a blind bit of difference. With directs: six engines are spewing CO2; without, only four are.

Scaling up this example produces the real-world effect of large airlines running hub feeder services to sell through tickets — because overall it saves expensive fuel (and engine hours). At the end of the day, burning as little fuel as possible is saving the environment.
 

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Having all their planes registered in Ireland, Ryanair doesn't have this problem.
Well actually Ryanair has half of their fleet now registered in either Poland or Malta, and also one has a UK reg. They tell you when booking if you're actually legally flying on Buzz (the Polish subsidary), Malta Air or Ryanair UK. I imagine aside from Brexit, there are tax and regulation benefits of them doing this. Seems mostly their Central and Eastern European bases have been moved to Buzz and some of their Southern Europen bases transferred to Malta Air. Most of their UK based fleet seems to continue flying under the Irish license for the now. They also have Lauda Air, their Austrian subsidary, which flies A320s rather than B737s, and it seems like they are trying to downsize or close it down.
 

WestCoast

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The BBC states that Easyjet will still serve all three of these airports; they just won't be basing any aircraft or crews there.
They don't fly Newcastle - London so the key UK routes they service are to Belfast (Int) and Bristol which can both be flown from "the other end", they may even keep the Newcastle - Jersey for instance flying Bristol - Newcastle - Jersey - Newcastle - Bristol.

If they drop Jersey, Loganair or Blue Islands may pick it up operating a smaller turboprop which also has environmental benefits.

It'll probably be some of the leisure routes to holiday destinations from Newcastle that may be discontinued, but then that's Jet2's core business now.
 

Tetchytyke

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Easyjet's Newcastle operations were always either bucket-and-spade flights or their domestic routes to Bristol and Belfast. The domestic flights can be crewed from anywhere, and with Brexit looming, it makes sense to run the bucket-and-spade stuff on an EU AOC.

I suspect a lot of industries will be using Covid as the excuse to consolidate their businesses ahead of Brexit. Airbus are looking at mass redundancies too. It is a shame they're hiding behind Covid because it protects the Brexitists from the political consequences of Brexitism, but hey.

If they drop Jersey, Loganair or Blue Islands may pick it up operating a smaller turboprop which also has environmental benefits.
Jersey was weekly and summer only, which is such a tiny market that it's barely worth worrying about. If it's profitable enough to be worth it they'll tack it on to another rotation, like they do for the weekend-only IOM-Bristol flights.

It'll probably be some of the leisure routes to holiday destinations from Newcastle that may be discontinued, but then that's Jet2's core business now.
I can see them dropping them for a bit then tacking them on to their EU AOC when the market improves, or when Easyjet Holidays gets more established.

For now, I imagine the DIY holiday market will be very weak, which will affect Easyjet and Ryanair, who relied on DIY holidaymakers. I think holidaymakers will prefer the benefits and ATOL protections afforded by a package holiday. So the likes of TUI and Jet2 will be OK.

At the end of the day, burning as little fuel as possible is saving the environment.
The most environmentally damaging part of aviation is the take off and landing. Short flights emit much more CO2 per km than longer ones. Flying Newcastle-London-Spain is more damaging than flying Newcastle-Spain.
 

rebmcr

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The most environmentally damaging part of aviation is the take off and landing. Short flights emit much more CO2 per km than longer ones. Flying Newcastle-London-Spain is more damaging than flying Newcastle-Spain.
The Newcastle-London and London-Spain legs are going to fly regardless. Newcastle-Spain is additional flights, which is always going to be more significant than relative efficiency.
 

NorthOxonian

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The Newcastle-London and London-Spain legs are going to fly regardless. Newcastle-Spain is additional flights, which is always going to be more significant than relative efficiency.
But if a flight from Newcastle-Spain is withdrawn, then those customers will fly both the Newcastle-London and London-Spain legs, meaning you'll need more flights on those routes.
 

jopsuk

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Presumably Easyjet withdrawing from Stansted/Southend/Newcastle will mean a serious reduction in routes from there- ie (almost) only to hubs?
 

gsnedders

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Presumably Easyjet withdrawing from Stansted/Southend/Newcastle will mean a serious reduction in routes from there- ie (almost) only to hubs?
Easyjet fly plenty of non-hub to non-hub routes, so it's not implausible non-hub routes will continue. Realistically, I expect to see Stansted and Southend flights either get cut or moved to Luton and Gatwick. Newcastle I believe was never as successful as they hoped, so I expect they'll simply continue flying the routes that were most profitable.
 

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Easyjet fly plenty of non-hub to non-hub routes, so it's not implausible non-hub routes will continue. Realistically, I expect to see Stansted and Southend flights either get cut or moved to Luton and Gatwick. Newcastle I believe was never as successful as they hoped, so I expect they'll simply continue flying the routes that were most profitable.
I'm not sure what the deal with Southend was - was Stobart Group paying them to fly from there to establish it, perhaps? It did seem odd to have another London airport, an obscure, not easy to access one at that.

I get having both Gatwick and Luton as they serve different catchments.

I don't get Stansted full stop, there's literally nothing good about it.
 

FQTV

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The easyJet base at Newcastle was actually one that they took over GOfly, the no-frills operation set up by Barbara Cassani for British Airways.

There was one route, Newcastle to Stansted, and it grew from there. They have tried all sorts, but apart from Bristol and Belfast domestically, and Palma, Barcelona and Malaga, not a lot has stuck for them.

From memory, they used to do things like Nice daily, and IIRC occasionally double-daily; they've tried Berlin, Copenhagen and a fair few others.

The Stansted route was suspended some time ago, so even if they stick to Bristol, Belfast, Malaga, Palma and Barcelona, I can see them being able to do so without really 'downsizing' their proposition to the customer. As others have said, they could operate all these routes from the other ends, or as part of 'W-Routes' eg Bristol - Barcelona - Newcastle - Barcelona - Bristol.
 

BayPaul

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This looks especially bad for Southend Airport, where I think easyJet is far and away the largest operator. As others have said, it makes sense for them to consolidate to their other London airports, so it is likely they won't have much left at Southend. If Ryanair do something similar and move their flights to Stansted, then I could see Southend closing.
 

Bald Rick

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Easyjet fly plenty of non-hub to non-hub routes, so it's not implausible non-hub routes will continue. Realistically, I expect to see Stansted and Southend flights either get cut or moved to Luton and Gatwick. Newcastle I believe was never as successful as they hoped, so I expect they'll simply continue flying the routes that were most profitable.
Easyjet has a big market from Stansted to Scotland, particularly Edinburgh, much of which is East Anglia people, particularly Cambridge. There might be a light reduction in frequency but it’s inconceivable that they would stop this route, even with improved rail services to Edinburgh on the ECML from next year.

Their Southend offering predominantly served the south Essex market to holiday destinations, plus Amsterdam and Dublin. The big routes will stay, but Many of the smaller routes will go I expect.
 

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