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easyJet to shut bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle

The airline warned a month ago that 30% of its 15,000 staff were at risk

easyJet plc - easyJet founder offloads more shares in air carrier

Easyjet PLC (LON:EZJ) is to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports and sack 727 pilots and 1,290 cabin crew as part of a restructuring scheme.

Pilots union BALPA said it was shocked at the size of potential job losses, which equates to nearly 1-in-3 of easyJet pilots in the UK, it said.

The airline warned a month ago that 30% of its 15,000 staff were at risk following the coronavirus lockdown that has seen its fleet grounded for most of the past three months.

A spokesperson for the airline said: "EasyJet has today started formal consultation on proposals with employee representatives including BALPA and UNITE on all of its UK based pilots and crew.

"The proposals include the potential closing of three of its bases in the UK – London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle.

“These airports would remain part of easyJet’s route network.”

Last week, easyJet raised £419mln through a placing of shares to strengthen its financial position having forecast a £1bn cash outflow over the past three months due to the impact of the lockdowns.

The airline, which had already accessed a £600mln Bank of England loan, added that combined with the sale and leaseback of some planes, would give it cash of more than £3bn by the year-end.

easyJet was heavily criticised for paying a dividend of £174mln to shareholders in March.

Stelios shuns rights issue 

Earlier in the day, easyJet said founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou's family concert party did not take part in last week's £419mln right issue, so he now controls only 29.9% of the air carrier.

Previously this month, the billionaire had trimmed his stake to 33.3% from 34%, cashing in £22mln.

READ: easyJet agrees £206mln sale of six aircraft amid plans to strengthen balance sheet

Because the Greek-Cypriot entrepreneur now holds less than 30%, a relationship agreement established in 2014 to ensure the independence of the board has now ended, in compliance to listing rules.

Haji-Ioannou has been battling with the board to scrap a £4.5bn aircraft order signed with Airbus, arguing it would drive the company’s finances into the ground and even offered a £5mln bounty to any whistleblower holding information that could help scrap the deal.

He tried to kick out the chairman, chief executive and chief financial officer, but shareholders voted against his proposal

Shares dipped 1% to 678.05p on Tuesday afternoon.

Quick facts: easyJet plc

Price: 663.4 GBX

LSE:EZJ
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £2.9 billion
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