Wetherspoon to cut up to 450 staff at airport pubs

Pub chain Wetherspoon has announced plans that could see it cut up to half of its jobs at pubs in six UK airports.

The company said it had written to its 1,000 airport staff to warn them that between 400 and 450 of their jobs are at risk of redundancy.

“The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports,” said John Hutson, the company’s chief executive.

“We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage,” he added, saying that Wetherspoon will listen to its staff to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies.

The job cuts will take place at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.

Less than two months ago the company announced that it was planning to make between 110 to 130 head office workers redundant.

“Wetherspoon is proposing to collectively consult with employees through an employment representative committee, which will be established for this purpose,” Mr Hutson added.

The news comes as the Government is expected to announce a 10pm curfew on British pubs to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely announce the curfew, to start on Thursday night, later on Tuesday.

It marks a major new policy direction after ministers encouraged customers back into Britain’s pubs and restaurants by promising to pick up half the tab for their meals for 13 days in August.

Wetherspoon’s shares had been trading down slightly on the news on Tuesday morning, however they spiked to 1.3% up after the job cuts announcement.

Experts have warned that thousands of jobs in the hospitality sector are still at risk as the Government’s furlough scheme is set to come to a close before November.

It means that employers who are not doing well enough to bring their staff back to work will likely be considering whether to announce redundancies.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.