Job-swap hope for thousands of airline workers hit by crisis — but misery for EasyJet staff

By Hal Williams

IN A WEEK where EasyJet announced plans to cut up to 30 percent of its employees to save costs, home healthcare company Cera Care is offering thousands of new roles to redundant or furloughed airline staff.

EasyJet says it will fly fewer planes and fewer routes when the coronavirus crisis ends, and up to 4,500 of its 15,000-strong workforce may lose their jobs.

Other airlines have been badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, with redundancy and restructuring programmes widely imposed. British Airways has made 12,000 staff redundant, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has said his company will be forced to shed 3,000 jobs, and Flybe’s collapse led to 2,400 job losses.

The Cera initiative is being made through AirlinesUK to alleviate pressure on the care sector and reinstate UK workers to full-time employment. EasyJet will start a consultation process with its employees in coming days. It is not known how many will be eligible to take advantage of the Cera Care initiative to provide long-term jobs.

Mahiben Maruthappu, co-founder and CEO of Cera, said the company was considering three main priorities: to support the social care community, to alleviate pressure on the NHS, and to put people back to work. “By working with Airlines UK, we’ve taken a major step forward on all three of these fronts,” he said.

The skills of airline personnel are “highly transferable to social care”, Maruthappu believes. “Our digital platform will allow us to recruit, train and deploy them into care roles at speed.”

Cera says it has created 10,000 new jobs since lockdown, and offering roles to those in the airline sector makes sense as their skills make them perfect candidates for adaptation.

Jane Middleton, chairman of AirlinesUK, admitted that it was an unprecedented period of disruption for the industry.

“Our priority is to support our members and their communities,” she said. “From an employment perspective, COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on the UK airline workforce. We are glad to (have) the employment opportunities with Cera Care.”