London City Airport is axing 239 jobs - 35% of its total staff - as part of 'crucial restructuring plans' amid Covid pandemic


London City Airport has announced it is cutting up to 239 jobs as part of 'crucial restructuring plans'.

The proposals mean 35% of roles could be lost across the airport.

A consultation has begun with staff on ways of reducing costs, including through voluntary redundancy.

The airport was closed for nearly three months from March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief executive Robert Sinclair said: 'It is with huge regret that we are announcing this restructuring programme today and our thoughts are with all of our highly valued staff and their families. 

'The aviation sector is in the throes of the biggest downturn it has ever experienced as a result of the pandemic. We have held off looking at job losses for as long as possible, but sadly we are not immune from the devastating impact of this virus.

'Our focus in the coming weeks is to help all staff through this exceptionally difficult period. We are committed to playing our part in rebuilding a stronger local and national economy once the worst of the downturn passes and believe that the difficult decisions we are taking now will enable the airport to bounce back in a better shape when growth returns.'

It comes after Heathrow's chief executive warned that the Government's Covid quarantine policy is 'strangling' the UK economy and costing jobs 'every day'.

The west London airport registered an 82 per cent fall in passenger numbers in August compared to last year, as it repeats its call for Boris Johnson to introduce testing as an alternative to Britain's 14-day quarantine rule.

Heathrow, which before the Covid-19 pandemic was the busiest airport in Europe, said that North American passenger numbers were down 95 per cent compared to last year as the coronavirus quarantine rule deters long-haul travel.

Just 1.4 million people travelled through the major London airport in August, compared with 7.7 million during the same month in 2019. 

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said that Covid-19 has 'decimated the aviation industry', caused an 'unprecedented drop in passenger numbers at Heathrow', and cost the airport over £1billion since March. 

It comes as the coronavirus crisis takes a sledgehammer to the travel industry in its gravest ever crisis, with airlines forced to cut thousands of jobs and slash the number of flights they provide as demand for international travel falls. 

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's boss, has said over 30 airports worldwide are using testing of travellers as a way of reducing quarantine requirements - with one of those, Germany's Frankfurt, having overtaken Heathrow in passenger numbers.

He warned that Britain's economic recovery is 'falling behind', adding: 'Ministers urgently need to turn words into action. Every day of further Government delay costs British jobs and livelihoods.'  

Mr Holland-Kaye also told Sky News today that furlough 'is going to be a cliff edge when that comes to an end at the end of October'.

'I think that there's at least a third of those jobs are at risk if we don't see the aviation sector recovery,' Heathrow's chief executive added.  

'Provisional traffic figures for August show passenger numbers remain 82 percent down on last year and we must urgently adapt to this new reality.'