Almost 900 jobs are under threat at three airports under plans to cut costs as a result of the virus crisis.
Proposals by the Manchester Airport Group (MAG) could mean the loss of 465 roles at Manchester Airport, 376 jobs at London Stansted and 51 posts at East Midlands Airport, along with adjustments to roster patterns and other employment measures.
Unite said full-time posts under threat included security officers, engineers, customer service staff, bus drivers and car park attendants.
The union said the move was a direct consequence of the Government’s “ongoing failure” to provide support to the aviation sector.
MAG said it will begin discussions with unions on proposals to reduce employee costs in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, following a 90% reduction in demand for travel through its airports since March compared with the previous year.
A statement said: “In recent weeks, the prospects for a strong recovery over the next 12 months have declined as the virus has re-emerged across the UK and Europe.
“Meanwhile, the absence of dedicated support for the aviation sector, coupled with a lack of progress in introducing testing for UK passengers to date, has continued to undermine consumer confidence in air travel for next year. Overall passenger demand is not expected to recover fully before 2023-24.”
MAG said it had already asked every employee to take a 10% pay cut for a year, reduced the size of its management team, and paused capital investment and non-essential expenditure.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand. Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened.
“With uncertainty about when a vaccine will be widely available, we need to be realistic about when demand is likely to recover.
“The end of the Job Retention Scheme means that we have to consider the number of roles that we can sustain at our airports.
“We will be discussing these issues with our trade unions, and consulting them fully on a range of options for reducing the size and overall cost of our workforce.”
Unite officer Lawrence Chapple-Gill said the news was a “bitter blow” to workers, adding: “They and their families now face a very difficult and unsettling time but Unite will support them every step of the way.
“Unite will do everything it can to reduce job losses and seek to ensure that any eventual redundancies are voluntary and not compulsory in nature.
“These job losses are an inevitable consequence of the Government’s failure to provide sector specific support to the aviation industry, the sector which has been most heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Once Covid-19 is under control, confidence will return to the industry and flights will increase. It is a total failure of government to not be assisting the industry and its workforce through this crisis in order to ensure it can quickly recover when the virus abates.”