Luton-based airline EasyJet has announced it is looking to reduce its workforce by up to 30% as it struggles to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The budget airline said it will launch a consultation process with its staff in the coming days on the planned job cuts which could affect 4,500 employees.

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EastJet currently employs around 15,000 people.

The airline wants to start flying again on June 15, but is planning to reduce the size of its fleet.

Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said he didn't expect the levels of market demand seen in 2019 to be seen again until at least 2023.

The job cuts follow similar moves by other airlines such as British Airways and Stansted-based Ryanair.

EasyJet, which also flies out of Stansted and Southend, grounded its entire fleet in March.

EasyJet are based at Luton Airport. Credit: PA

"Although we will restart flying on June 15, we expect demand to build slowly, only returning to 2019 levels in about three years' time," Mr Lundgren said.

"Against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and tooptimise the network and our bases.

"As a result, we anticipate reducing staff numbers by up to 30% across thebusiness and we will continue to remove cost and non-critical expenditure atevery level. We will be launching an employee consultation over the comingdays.

"We want to ensure that we emerge from the pandemic an even more competitive business than before, so that easyJet can thrive in the future."

By the end of next year, the airline estimates it will have reduced its fleet size by around 51 aircraft to approximately 302.

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