MIAMI – British budget carrier easyJet (U2) has offered its Pilots six-month seasonal contracts. This is an attempt to avoid cutting jobs due to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel demand around the world has been severely affected for months now. As a result, airlines are having to make tough decisions to preserve resources. Just last week, U2 decided to go ahead with the closing of three UK bases in Stansted, Southend and Newcastle.

Overall, 700 U2 Pilots’ jobs are at stake because of the collapse in demand. With the new seasonal contract, U2 would retain these Pilots to fly for half the year. Pilots would then have the second half of the year off.

This is one of several different arrangements that U2 offered the pilot group. The London Luton based carrier attempts to match staffing levels with passenger levels. However, the industry does not expect these to recover any time in the near future.

easyJet Airbus A320-214 OE-IJD. Photo: © Daniel Sander

Other Potential Options Moving Forward

“As part of its ongoing discussions with BALPA [British Airline Pilots Association] easyJet’s UK pilots have been offered a range of alternative contract options in an effort to mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies and job loses overall.” said a spokesperson for the airline.

Other options presented to the pilots included a two weeks on/two weeks off schedule, a three weeks on/one week off schedule, shortening the normal schedule of 13 days on by four days, or the option to take unpaid leave for 6-18 months.

The spokesperson added that the airline asked Pilots to submit their preferences in the coming days. “These options have been agreed with BALPA.”

In the last quarter, passenger demand had fallen so drastically that the airline flew only 117,000 customers. This is a dramatic fall from the 26.4m passengers that the same quarter last year saw.

Featured image: easyjet Airbus A320 | Photo: Mark Harkin