September 3: EasyJet announced that it is to stop operations from East Midlands Airport and reduce flights from Luton by up to 20%.
The budget airline says that the reductions of flights from Luton are “a function of the airport’s failure to recognise the commercial realities of the recession” and it will move flights to other “more attractive locations elsewhere” in the UK. It claims costs at Luton have risen by 25% in the last three years and protracted negotiations with Abertis, the Spanish operator of Luton Airport and its owner Luton Borough Council have not resulted in any concessions.
EasyJet says its base at East Midlands has “remained stagnant” and the company has decided to “focus its assets on higher priority markets”. The airline has begun the formal 90-day consultation with its employees – around 120 staff are employed at East Midlands Airport. Flights are due to be suspended in early 2010. In reply, Penny Coates, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, said: “We’re sorry to hear about EasyJet’s proposal to leave the East Midlands region from 2010 but we can reassure our passengers that this has virtually no impact on the choice of low-cost destinations available from East Midlands Airport.
“The impact on jobs is regrettable but EasyJet staff can take some comfort from the creation of 250 new jobs with Jet2.com and from our announcement today of a free scheme via two local colleges which arms local jobseekers with the latest skills to find work.”
Andy Harrison, EasyJet’s Chief Executive, said: “I am deeply disappointed that Abertis and Luton Borough Council have not taken a more far-sighted approach that would have protected jobs at Luton. With regard to East Midlands we cannot see a growing long term future and we have decided to move our assets to markets with better long term potential.”