Manchester Airport announces pay cuts and enforced leave to tackle coronavirus crisis

Charlie Cornish

Manchester Airports Group is enforcing annual leave, cutting working hours and introducing temporary pay cuts and lay-offs in response to the coronavirus crisis.

All the major airlines have grounded their fleets in response to travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world.

Most of the countries in Europe have closed their borders leaving the aviation industry in crisis.

In a statement early this evening MAG said its executive team has taken a pay cut with immediate effect, and it is freezing recruitment and capital expenditure while the emergency measures are in place.

And it called on the Government to stand behind the industry to ensure that once the worst effects were over, it was in a position to emerge intact and plan for the future.

In a statement, MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Karen Dee, the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt.

“As some airlines call on the UK Government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.

 “The UK’s airports are critical national infrastructure, fulfilling a vital public service, and are on the frontline of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is essential that airport businesses remain operating and are able to weather this storm, so that they can provide the connectivity which drives growth, employment and prosperity after the crisis has abated.

“The Government must step in to see airports across the four home nations through the current crisis, and make an unequivocal commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry.”

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