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Friday 04th of September 2009
September 3, 2009    

easyJet closures put jobs at risk

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by Kay Murchie

Budget airline easyJet is to close its base at East Midlands airport and cut services at Luton Airport by a fifth with a view to transferring them to profitable bases in continental Europe.

Luton is one of easyJet’s biggest bases and operates 16 aircraft and carries almost 5 million passengers each year.

Meanwhile, the low-cost airline said it would consult on a reduction of the number of flight crews at its bases in Belfast, Bristol, Newcastle and London Stansted.

The consultation on crew numbers at the above bases affects around 40 pilot and cabin crew jobs.

According to the carrier, costs at Luton have risen by 25% over the last few years and the base is no longer economical.

Chief executive of easyJet, Andy Harrison, said: “I am deeply disappointed that Abertis and Luton Borough Council have not taken a more far-sighted approach which would have protected jobs at Luton.”

“At a time when jobs are under threat in the town the airport should be an engine for growing employment, not a source of further unemployment. This can only happen, however, if the owner and the operator make the right commercial decisions and deliver a competitive cost base,” added Harrison.

Meanwhile, the airline added that it cannot see a growing long term future at East Midlands and has therefore “decided to move our assets to markets with better long term potential.”

Passenger duty tax was also to blame for its decision, said the airline. From November, the tax will increase from £10 to £11.

Budget airline, Ryanair, recently said it had to written to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, asking him to abolish the tax, particularly as the Belgian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish Governments have all scrapped tourist taxes and/or reduced airport charges in a bid to boost tourism.

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