East Midlands Airport to enforce temporary staff lay-offs over coronavirus fears

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East Midlands Airport is to enforce temporary staff lay-offs as the coronavirus outbreak has led to a "rapid and unprecedented reduction in demand for air travel" in the UK.

Airline Jet2 cancelled all flight from the airport to Spain on Saturday (March 17), after the country declared a state of emergency, and Ryanair cancelled all flights between the UK and Poland until March 31.

Yesterday, Tui suspended their package holidays and cruises.

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As a result of the cancellations, bosses at East Midlands Airport have introduced measures such as temporary pay cuts, reduced working hours, temporary lay-offs and enforced annual leave.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive officer at MAG, which owns the airport said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a rapid and unprecedented reduction in demand for air travel in and out of the UK, and MAG airports are seeing much lower passenger numbers as a result.

“We expect demand to return as the Covid-19 peak passes, but this temporary and dramatic downturn requires us to act now to protect our position at this critical time.

“Over the next few days, we will be consulting with our colleagues and unions and introducing measures to reduce our costs and preserve the group’s resources at this critical time.

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“These will include enforced annual leave, reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs. Our executive team is taking a pay cut with immediate effect and we have frozen recruitment and paused capital expenditure.

“These are difficult decisions for MAG and they have not been taken lightly. We recognise the impact they will have on our people and we will be consulting with our colleagues. Our aim will always be to protect jobs wherever possible, and we need to take these steps now to ensure the company’s future.

“I am in no doubt that this outbreak is the greatest threat the UK’s travel sector has ever faced.

“The Government must stand behind the aviation industry to make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over.”