Aviation services company Swissport said Wednesday it could cut 4,556 jobs in the UK and Ireland, as it becomes the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the airline industry.
Swissport Western Europe, which operates at London airports Heathrow and Gatwick, said in a statement that it had to reduce its staff size to survive the crisis.
The company, which hires more than 64,000 people globally, told Euronews it was inevitable staff in Europe will also be made redundant -- but did not say how many jobs were at risk.
Brussels' ACLVB trade union, which represents Swissport employees in Belgium, told Euronews in a statement: "We believe other Swissport stations (in Europe) are likely to undergo major restructuring plans."
Almost 1,500 Swissport employees in Belgium lost their jobs on June 9.
"We all have the feeling that the Swiss handler manages its stations in a disastrous manner and does not assume its duties towards its staff," the ACLVB spokesperson said.
Swissport is present in 80 airports across Europe, including in the UK.
"The COVID-19 epidemic has hurt us a lot," said Jason Holt, head of the group for the United Kingdom and Ireland, said in a statement seen by AFP.
He said that the difficulties started with the bankruptcy of the British regional airline Flybe in March and continued with flights being grounded during lockdown.
The company is owned by China’s HNA Group and is the world’s largest provider of airport ground services and air cargo handling with operations at 300 airports in 47 countries.
The UK trade union Unite said the announcement was "devastating", especially for regional airports and the local economy. It also reiterated its call for help to the government.
These job cuts come after multiple airlines such as EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Ryanair announced redundancies.
Swissport is owned by China’s HNA Group and is the world’s largest provider of airport ground services and air cargo handling.
It operates in 300 airports in 47 countries.