Heathrow Airport in the UK has initiated a formal consultation with unions on redundancies as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact air travel.

The airport issued formal Section 188 notices, which initiated a 45-day consultation period that may result in job losses.

The move comes after the airport authorities and unions failed to reach an agreement following months of discussion.

According to a report in The Guardian, the Section 188 notices will enable Heathrow to offer new contracts to employees after the consultation period is over.

This may lead to salary reductions for those who agree to stay on at Heathrow, as well as voluntary redundancies and furloughs.

Although the airport insisted that it will guarantee a job to all workers who wish to stay with the business, the move may result in more than a thousand job losses.

In a statement, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “Discussions with our unions have taken place over four months and our final offer is informed by feedback we have received from them.

“But with air travel showing little sign of recovery, these discussions cannot go on indefinitely and we must act now to prevent our situation from worsening.”

The spokesperson added that Heathrow witnessed an unprecedented fall in passenger numbers following the pandemic, costing the airport more than £1bn since the start of March.

The provisional traffic figures for this month show that passenger numbers are 82% below on a year-on-year basis.

Recently, Heathrow Airport announced that it has trialled three rapid point-of-care Covid-19 tests in a bid to replace the current testing system with quarantine rules and support the recovery of the aviation sector.

One of the tests claimed to provide the results in as little as 30 seconds.