EasyJet to cut jobs in Berlin, scrap German domestic flights

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LONDON (Reuters) - British low cost carrier easyJet EZJ.L plans to cut jobs and the number of aircraft it has in Berlin and is proposing scrapping domestic German flights as part of its retrenchment over COVID-19, a German union and source familiar with the plan said.

Airlines around Europe have set out plans to cut tens of thousands of jobs as bosses believe it will take several years for demand to return to the levels seen in 2019.

EasyJet set out its plan to reduce British pilot numbers on Tuesday and on Wednesday it confirmed it had launched a consultation in Germany to reduce its presence in Berlin. It said in May it needed to cut 4,500 jobs in total to stay competitive.

While the airline said it remained committed to Berlin, union Verdi said easyJet intended to withdraw from domestic travel and reduce the number of aircraft stationed in the German capital to 18 from 34, and halve the number of employees from around 1,540.

A person familiar with the situation also confirmed the proposals.

“Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people - we are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network,” Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said in a statement.

“Although we will remain Berlin’s largest carrier we have to adjust our schedule to reflect the demand following the pandemic and focus on profitable flying.”

The union described it as a “black day” for Berlin air traffic.

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Emelia Sithole-Matarise