Airport ground handling firm Swissport plans to axe thousands of jobs

Airport ground handling firm Swissport has announced it is to axe thousands of jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company, which has a base at Luton and Stansted, helps with passenger services including baggage handling and cargo.

It's planning to cut more than 4,500 jobs in the UK as the aviation industry reels from the pandemic.

Trade union GMB believes 105 jobs will go at Luton and 117 will be axed at Stansted.

Chief executive Jason Holt said the company had to reduce the size of its workforce to survive and annual revenues are expected to be almost 50% lower than last year.

It's true that we've seen tough times before - volcanic cloud, 9/11, the financial crisis - and we've weathered these. But this time it's different. We have never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetimes.

Jason Holt, Swissport, CEO
Swissport employs around 8,500 people in the UK and Ireland Credit: PA

Swissport employs 8,500 workers at airports, including baggage handlers and check-in staff.

It's believed almost 600 ground handling and cargo staff are employed by Swissport at Stansted.

Swissport will let go of more than half of its UK workforce, with its revenue collapsing in recent months and air travel not expected to return to pre-virus levels for several years.

Trade unions Unite and GMB described the announcement as "devastating news".

Thousands of jobs have already been lost across the sector as a result of the crisis, with Luton-based Easyjet announcing 4,500 staff will go and Stansted-based Ryanair axing 3,000.