UK budget carrier EasyJet is proposing to close two of its four London bases, as well as its Newcastle station, as part of the cuts to cope with the coronavirus situation.

The airline is looking to shut its London Stansted and London Southend bases, along with Newcastle, and to cut nearly 730 pilots and almost 1,300 cabin crew from its workforce.

EasyJet stated last month that it was planning “optimisation” of its network and bases, and to reduce its fleet capacity.

As a result, it said, it would start consulting employees on reducing staff numbers by up to 30%.

EasyJet employed some 15,000 personnel at the end of its 2019 fiscal year, including nearly 4,000 pilots and more than 9,000 cabin crew.

But the crisis has forced it to rethink its business plan, and the airline is expecting to fly only about 30% of its planned fourth-quarter capacity – the period covering the peak summer season from July to September.

The airline estimates that its fleet at the end of 2021 to total just over 300 aircraft, a figure nearly 15% lower than originally planned.

EasyJet has been undertaking steps to defer deliveries of new Airbus jets and raise capital by entering sale-and-leaseback deals.

UK cockpit association BALPA states that it is “shocked” at the scale of the crew cuts which, it says, amounts to nearly one in three of its UK pilots.

“We had been expecting EasyJet to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline through to recovery,” says BALPA general secretary, Brian Strutton.

“This seems an excessive over-reaction.”

He argues that ticket sales have started to rebound since EasyJet began restoring services, and points out that the airline has been highlighting its strong liquidity.

“This is more evidence that aviation in the UK is caught in a death spiral of despair and individual airlines are flailing around without direction,” he adds.

EasyJet has bases at London Gatwick and London Luton, as well as other stations in the UK.