UK job losses mount as pandemic effects rip through businesses



Centrica, the owner of British Gas, plans to cut about 5,000 jobs, many from management, as it lays out cost-cutting restructuring plans that will create a leaner business. Britain’s biggest energy supplier will cut three layers of management as it plans to set up fewer customer-facing units, which will report directly to the chief executive. About half of its 40 or so senior leadership team will leave the lossmaking energy supplier by the end of August. Most of the restructuring will come in the second half of this year. “Since becoming chief executive almost three months ago, I’ve focused on navigating the company through the Covid-19 crisis and identifying what needs to change in Centrica," chief executive Chris O'Shea said. We’ve learned through the crisis that we can be agile and responsive in the most difficult conditions and put our customers at the heart of our decision making. However, I believe that our complex business model hinders the delivery of our strategy and inhibits the relentless focus I want to give to our customers. 


London's Heathrow airport warned on Thursday that employment levels are "no longer sustainable", partly due to the UK government's two-week quarantine policy for arriving passengers. The collapse in passenger numbers due to coronavirus, followed by a stringent 14-day quarantine rule, could put as many as 25,000 jobs based at Europe's busiest airport on the line, Heathrow said. It refused though to specify how many of its own employees it plans to cut. The UK’s largest airport, which before the crisis directly employed 7,500 people, has begun to restructure its frontline roles, having cut a third of managerial roles, as passenger numbers remain stuck at an all-time low in May, down 97 percent compared with the same period last year. The 25,000 figure includes lay-offs for jobs based at the airport announced by Virgin, British Airways, and other companies. The “grim” situation for the airport is set to continue thanks to new self-isolation rules for arrivals to the UK imposed by the government, Heathrow said in a statement. “Throughout this crisis, we have tried to protect front line jobs, but this is no longer sustainable, and we have now agreed on a voluntary severance scheme with our union partners,” said John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow. “While we cannot rule out further job reductions, we will continue to explore options to minimize the number of job losses.” The airport urged the UK government to quickly establish 'air bridges' to allow travel to countries with a low rate of coronavirus infections without quarantining for 14 days. European countries including Turkey, Greece, Spain, and Portugal are keen to adopt transport corridors as soon as next month, which could help many travel companies survive the sharpest downturn in its history. The aviation industry is also calling for a waiver in business rates for all airports in England and Wales for a year, the airport said.