Coronavirus: 900 airport jobs disappear – as testing task force receives lukewarm response | Economic news

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Britain’s largest airport group has announced plans to cut 900 jobs – as ministers launch a COVID-19 testing task force to try to revive travel.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which has hubs in Manchester, Stansted and the East Midlands, said a continued drop in demand at the end of the holiday program and a lack of progress in testing prompted it Act.

MAG said it was proposing to cut 465 jobs in Manchester, 376 in Stansted and 51 in East Midlands and to make other job changes, including rotation patterns.

The announcement came as the Department of Transportation said a new task force would work with industry to try to reduce travelers’ quarantine times by using testing.

But there was no timeline for the introduction of a testing regimen, prompting a lukewarm response from Virgin Atlantic – another company severely affected by the pandemic – which welcomed the move but warned that ” every day counts ”with half a million aviation-dependent jobs at stake.

MAG said prospects for a recovery in demand – down 90% since March – were fading amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the UK and Europe and a full recovery of passengers was not expected until 2023-24.

“Meanwhile, the lack of dedicated support for the aviation sector, coupled with a lack of progress in introducing UK passenger testing to date, has continued to undermine consumer confidence in air travel. for next year, ”the group said.

The company said it had “widely used” the government’s job retention program which subsidized the wages of workers temporarily laid off during the pandemic, as well as cutting all wages by 10% and freezing spending plans.

But the holiday subsidy is being replaced by an employment support program, offering a “much smaller contribution to cover wage costs” for six months from early November, MAG said.

“The reduction in financial support from the government, combined with a more difficult outlook, means that MAG must now come up with additional measures to reduce the size of its workforce in order to secure the long-term future of the company,” said the company in a press release.

Managing Director Charlie Cornish said: “Right now we would have expected to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand.

“Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions meant that this did not happen.

“With uncertainty about when a vaccine will be widely available, we need to be realistic about when demand is likely to pick up. ”

Launching the government task force on coronavirus testing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The current border measures have saved lives.

“Our understanding of the science now means we can step up our efforts to develop options for a test diet and help reinvigorate our premier travel industry. ”

The DfT said the working group would examine the feasibility of “proposals based on a single test carried out after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the expense of the passenger.”

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