easyJet has announced plans to axe up to 20 percent of flights from its London Luton base as well as close its East Midlands hub.
In a move that mirrors Ryanair’s recent hub streamlining, the low-cost carrier said it would look relocate the Luton flights to more “profitable bases”.
But the no-frills airline quashed speculation that it was about to abandon its base at Luton altogether after a dispute over landing charges. The airline currently operates 16 aircraft and employs 1,000 staff at Luton, and carries 4.7 million passengers a year.
The airline said that flights to and from East Midlands airport up to the end of the year are “wholly unaffected” by the closure. It currently employs 120 staff and operates three aircraft, and carries around 700,000 passengers a year.
Elsewhere easyJet said it would begin a consultation on a reduction of 40 pilots and cabin crew jobs at its bases in Belfast, Bristol, Newcastle and Stansted.
The cutbacks come after the resolution this summer of a long-running public battle between the easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the boardroom over the budget airline’s aggressive expansion plans.
The industry is also continuing to struggle as passenger numbers continues to fall and energy prices rise.
Earlier this week, SkyEurope, low-cost Slovakian carrier, went bust and cancelled its flights from Manchester and Luton airports.
The International Air Transport Association recently reported that 54 airlines, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines, had slumped to net losses of at least $6 billion in the first half of the year. In December it forecast that the industry would lose $2.5 billion this year. This was revised to $4.7 billion in March and $9 billion in June.