Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the operator of Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, said on Thursday it will introduce enforced annual leave, reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a rapid and unprecedented reduction in demand for air travel in and out of the UK, and MAG airports are seeing much lower passenger numbers as a result,” said MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish in a long statement.
“We expect demand to return as the COVID-19 peak passes, but this temporary and dramatic downturn requires us to act now to protect our position at this critical time.
“Over the next few days we will be consulting with our colleagues and unions and introducing measures to reduce our costs and preserve the group’s resources at this critical time.
“These will include enforced annual leave, reduced working hours, temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs.
“Our executive team is taking a pay cut with immediate effect and we have frozen recruitment and paused capital expenditure.
“These are difficult decisions for MAG and they have not been taken lightly.
“We recognise the impact they will have on our people and we will be consulting with our colleagues.
“Our aim will always be to protect jobs wherever possible, and we need to take these steps now to ensure the company’s future.”
Manchester Airports Group is privately managed on behalf of its shareholders — Australian investment fund IFM Investors (35.5%), Manchester City Council (35.5%) and nine other Greater Manchester councils (29%).
CEO Cornish added: “It is too early to predict with any accuracy the long-term effects of this crisis.
“We are seeing many of our airlines and supply chain partners make similar announcements and we are doing what we need to do in the face of an unpredictable and fast-moving situation.
“Over the past decades, the aviation industry has been one of this country’s success stories.
“We provide vital services to the economy and to regions dependent on air connectivity.
“Aviation is also essential to some of our most important industries and in forging trading relationships.
“I am in no doubt that this outbreak is the greatest threat the UK’s travel sector has ever faced.
“Government needs to take decisive action now to make clear its total and unwavering support for airports, airlines and other travel companies.
“The UK depends on air travel to supports its economy.
“The government must stand behind the aviation industry to make sure it is still there and ready to help the economy recover once this is all over.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and make further announcements on MAG’s operations as the COVID-19 situation develops.”