Want the best local news sent to your inbox daily? Sign up to our newsletter
easyJet is to axe all of its international flights from Newcastle Airport after confirming the closure of its North East base.
The budget airline is also closing its operations at London Stansted and Southend from September 1, putting 670 roles at risk of redundancy.
But the budget airline has decided to scrap all of its international flights from the region, including to popular holiday destinations such as Malaga and Alicante, as part of its restructure.
This will come into effect from September with the only exception seeing services to and from Nice continuing until the end of October.
easyJet has revealed Belfast and Bristol will be the only destinations its customers will be able to fly to from Newcastle.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: “We have had to take the very difficult decision to close three UK bases as a result of the unprecedented impact of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, compounded by quarantine measures in the UK which is impacting demand for travel.
“Working closely with our employee representatives, I am pleased that we have been able to identify ways to significantly reduce the number of proposed compulsory redundancies through providing enhanced voluntary redundancy packages for all UK crew alongside additional options like part time and seasonal contracts, base transfers and unpaid leave which we expect to result in reducing the number of job losses overall.
“We would like to reassure customers due to fly from these airports that we are now contacting anyone whose flight is affected with clear advice on their options which include rerouting via alternative airports or receiving a full refund.”
The decision means the closest easyJet base for customers in the North East will be in Manchester or Liverpool.
easyJet put the bases on notice of closure in June and began a 45-day consultation period with members of staff as it looked to axe 1,290 jobs – the equivalent to 30% of its UK workforce.
Protesters, including easyJet staff, staged three demonstrations outside the airport in recent weeks urging the airline to reconsider its decision, which is set to see more than 150 North East workers lose their jobs.
That consultation has now closed and the company said it had managed to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies. It is understood that the airline discussed the plans with unions on Monday.
A Newcastle International Airport spokeswoman said: “As of today easyJet concluded its staff consultation and has taken the decision to close three UK bases including Newcastle International Airport. Our thoughts go out to all easyJet staff who have been affected.
“The North East has a long standing relationship with easyJet and whilst this base closure will impact flights to all their international destinations the airline will maintain year-round services to Belfast, Bristol and Nice for this summer only.
“Over 80% of the international destinations affected are already served by our existing airline partners and we will continue discussions regarding their interest in the other impacted destinations.
“For any passengers affected by flight cancellations who wish to rebook with another airline from Newcastle, car park bookings can be amended free of charge.”
The base closures comes at a time of unprecedented problems for the travel and aviation sectors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Newcastle Airport has itself announced the loss of 34 permanent jobs while 76 seasonal posts cut were short. Baggage handlers Swissport is also looking to cut 300 jobs at the airport.
This content was originally published here.