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An easyJet A319 in Munich (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

EasyJet to Offer Pilots Alternative to Layoffs

In a move that may become increasingly common among airlines seeking to avoid layoffs, EasyJet will be offering pilots an alternative to being made redundant. The plan will offer pilots seasonal contracts, working for parts of the year and taking the rest of the year off. The offer comes as airlines across the globe are facing massive layoffs and losses amid the downturn in demand from the COVID-19 pandemic.

EasyJet has offered its pilots numerous alternatives to help mitigate the number of mandatory layoffs required. The airline has warned that up to 727 pilots, or one-third of its pilot force, will have to be laid off. The airline has also announced the closure of three of its bases in the UK — London Stansted, Newcastle and Southend — as demand continues to stall. Pilots have been warned that if they do not accept one of the alternatives, or take a voluntary leave, they will receive less generous severance terms if they are to be laid off. 

The latest alternative offered to pilots is a seasonal contract in which pilots would work for six months in a year and be not scheduled and unpaid for the remainder of the year. Pilots have also been offered deals that would see them able to work for two weeks then take two weeks off, working nine days in a workweek rather than thirteen or working for three weeks with a week off.  Voluntary leave is also being offered to pilots for various terms, ranging from six to 18 months. 

The airline is trying to stem record losses caused by the drop in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions. In its second-quarter report, the airline carried 117,000 passengers versus 26.4 million passengers in the same period last year. The airline also announced revenues of $9.16 million versus revenues of $2.3 billion for the same quarter last year. A resurgence of the virus, in particular in holiday destinations such as Spain and Greece, will keep demand low as well as new quarantine rules implemented by the government of the UK. 

American Airlines Offers Similar Arrangement

Earlier this year, American Airlines announced an agreement with its pilots for similar alternatives to layoffs. Their agreement can see pilots work alternating months as a way to reduce costs for the airline. The airlines had announced up to 2,500 pilots face an involuntary furlough on Oct. 1. The airline had already reached an agreement with 800 pilots for voluntary early retirements. 

EasyJet has not announced how many pilots have agreed to alternate contracts to avoid layoffs. As the pandemic rages on, airlines will continue to manage huge losses and work to mitigate layoffs in the months ahead. Alternative offers similar to EasyJet’s and American’s may become more common as a way to avoid mass redundancies that airlines are facing.

The move may prove to be popular both with employees seeking to stay employed and airlines seeking to mitigate losses and avoid the costly furlough and layoff process.

Daniel Morley
Daniel Morley
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