EasyJet pilots say they have no confidence in COO in union vote

FILE PHOTO: Staff close the doors of a plane ready for departure, as EasyJet restarts its operations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Gatwick Airport, in Gatwick, Britain June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Over 2,000 easyJet EZJ.L pilots voted to say they had no confidence in the airline's chief operating officer Peter Bellew, illustrating the strain on labour relations as the company tries to cut jobs.

BALPA, a union representing more than 90% of easyJet’s pilots, held the vote of confidence in Bellow, who it has criticised for misjudging the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to bypass unions and proposing pilot redundancies at a scale for which there was “no justification.”

Bellew joined easyJet in January and was formerly COO at the British airline's bigger rival Ryanair RYA.I.

EasyJet said in response: “We call on BALPA to focus on working constructively with us rather than on personal attacks which are not in best interests of our employees.”

In May, EasyJet said it needed to cut 4,500 jobs to stay competitive after the coronavirus pandemic caused travel demand to collapse. It has sent notification of a potential 727 pilot redundancies.

Unions representing airline staff in Britain have their work cut out as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are also trying to cut jobs by 12,000 and 3,150 respectively.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Alistair Smout