U.K.-based airline EasyJet plans to get rid of almost one-third of its employees as the coronavirus pandemic continues to reduce demand for air travel.
EasyJet said in its latest annual report that it employs around 15,000 people. That means it could end up eliminating as many as 4,500 jobs.
The budget airline's CEO said in a statement, "We realize that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long-term."
EasyJet will soon start consulting with employees about the job cuts. It's also going to reduce the size of its fleet to cut costs even more.
The British Airline Pilots' Association criticized the airline's decision, saying, "EasyJet’s own projections, though on the pessimistic side, point to recovery by 2023, so this is a temporary problem that doesn’t need this ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.”
EasyJet grounded its fleet back in March over the outbreak. Since then, it's secured almost $740 million through the U.K.'s coronavirus emergency fund, borrowed $500 million from creditors and signed two loans worth roughly another $500 million.
EasyJet expects to resume some of its routes by mid-June. All passengers and crew members will be required to wear face masks while on its planes.
Contains footage from CNN.