London Luton Airport in the UK has announced that it may lay off 250 airport workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is equivalent to around one-third of the directly employed workers at the airport.

The pandemic has led to the implementation of travel restrictions, impacting air travel demand.

London Luton Airport CEO Alberto Martin said that it expects passenger traffic to decrease by 70% this year compared to the previous year.

While the airport expects to recover from the crisis, the full effect of the outbreak is unknown.

The aviation industry is not expected to return to the 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024. In addition, short-term passenger numbers will also be lower than the levels before the outbreak of the pandemic, forecasts suggest.

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These redundancies are expected to safeguard the long-term future of London Luton Airport. It has entered a period of consultation from 1 July, which has put 250 roles at risk.

Martin said: “We intend to consult with those affected in an individual and collective manner.

“This means that we will undertake a series of consultation meetings with Unite the Union and individual consultation meetings will also run in parallel directly with affected employees.

“During the consultation we will be working to support our colleagues as much as possible and will be seeking ways to avoid redundancies where possible such as exploring opportunities for alternative employment elsewhere in the business.”

The UK’s principal aviation union, Unite, has stated that the decision to lay off workers is a ‘hammer blow’ for the aviation sector.

Unite regional officer Jeff Hodge said: “With the government looking at air bridges and the job retention scheme (JRS) continuing until October, this decision is simply premature. Any decision on job losses can and should be delayed until a clearer picture is available.

“But we are also calling on the government to play its part. Job losses in the aviation sector are growing directly as a result of the government’s failure to provide a sector-specific support package for the industry.”