Pilots were said to be shocked as it emerged up to 4,500 easyJet staff could lose their jobs under plans announced by the airline.

The Luton-based carrier said it intends to reduce its workforce by up to 30% as it cuts the size of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This follows similar moves by other airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair.

EasyJet has around 15,000 full-time employees - including 8,000 based in the UK - meaning a maximum of 4,500 jobs are at risk.

The low-cost airline's chief executive, Johan Lundgren, told reporters: "It's a horrible thing. EasyJet is built on absolutely fantastic people, and clearly this is going to have an impact on some of those.

READ MORE: Thousands of EasyJet staff to lose jobs as airline cuts workforce and reduces fleet

"But we do it to make sure that easyJet not only survives through this period, but also comes out of this as a strong and competitive company."

He added: "This is still the worst crisis that this industry has ever been faced with. There's a huge amount of uncertainty going forward."

EasyJet will restart flying on June 15 but does not expect demand to return to 2019 levels until 2023.

The airline is planning for its capacity between July and September to be 30% of what it was during the same period last year.

By the end of September next year it expects to have reduced its fleet size by around 51 aircraft to approximately 302.

This will be achieved through measures such as deferring new aircraft arrivals.
Bookings for winter are "well ahead of the equivalent point last year", partly due to some customers rebooking flights which were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, said easyJet staff will be "shocked at the scale of this announcement".

"Given easyJet is a British company, the UK is its strongest market and it has had hundreds of millions in support from the UK taxpayer, I can safely say that we will need a lot of convincing that easyJet needs to make such dramatic cuts," he said.

"Indeed, easyJet's own projections, though on the pessimistic side, point to recovery by 2023 so this is a temporary problem that doesn't need this ill-considered knee-jerk reaction."

Mr Lundgren raised concerns about the UK's 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals which comes into force on June 8, stating that the scientific evidence to support the measure "is still not clear to me".

He said: "While you see restrictions and the few examples of quarantine that exist around Europe today are being lifted and relaxed, the UK is going the other way."

He added: "How do you explain to British people that we'll see Germans and other European nationalities going to holidays in Greece and parts of Spain where there's less risk of being infected than in places in the UK?

"Why would they need quarantine? What's the rationale behind that?"

Online fashion retailer Boohoo has bought the remaining stake of Pretty Little Thing from its founder and operating chief for £269.8 million.

Umar Kamani, who founded Pretty Little Thing, could see the amount rise by £54 million if the deal can help Boohoo shares hit 491p a share for a six-month period at some point over the next four years.

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Mr Kamani, a big fan and user of Instagram, is the son of Boohoo founder Mahmud Kamani.

The deal for the women's fashion brand aimed at the 16 to 24 year old market was an "important further step towards achieving its vision to lead the fashion e-commerce market globally", Boohoo said in a statement.

The deal, which had been played down by the company following initial reports, is the latest in a string of acquisitions made by the fashion business, including high street names Karen Millen and Coast.

Boohoo said: "After this acquisition and with its growing platform of wholly owned, innovative fashion brands, the group believes it can continue to successfully disrupt the international markets it operates in today whilst retaining a strong balance sheet in order to take advantage of numerous M&A opportunities that are likely to emerge in the global fashion industry over the coming months."

Since Boohoo bought a stake in Pretty Little Thing in January 2017 of 66%, revenues have hit £516 million with profits of £45.2 million after tax.

It added: "The group intends the senior management team at PLT, including Umar Kamani and Paul Papworth, to remain in their current roles and continue focusing on developing PLT into a global brand."

Mr Papworth is currently chief operating officer.

Since the coronavirus lockdown hit, Boohoo said it saw a marked fall in sales in March but a swift rebound in April. The company did not shut operations during lockdown, leading to some complaints from unions over working conditions.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce "cautious" steps out of lockdown for Scotland.

The First Minister will reveal on Thursday if the country is moving on to the first phase of a four-part plan for easing the restrictions - which were put in place more than nine weeks ago on March 23.

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People could be permitted to meet up with friends or relatives from other households - one household at a time - and take part in some non-contact sports such as golf, angling and outdoor swimming.

Garden centres, drive-through restaurants and recycling centres could also get the green light to reopen.

The changes could come into effect from Friday but Ms Sturgeon has already warned not all the measures in phase one of her plan will necessarily be introduced immediately.

It comes after the number of people dying with Covid-19 fell for the fourth week in a row, with National Records of Scotland revealing there were 230 deaths linked to the virus registered between May 18 and 24.

Ms Sturgeon said: "These trends, which have now been sustained for over four weeks, do definitely give us grounds for encouragement."

At the same time, Scotland's new Test and Protect system also comes into force across the country.

The contact tracing system will "operate at a scale not seen before in Scotland" Ms Sturgeon said, as part of efforts to continue to suppress the spread of the virus.

Under the new system, Scots will be expected to be tested for Covid-19 if they show symptoms of the disease - and if they test positive they will be asked to supply details of anyone they could have passed it on to.

Those people will then be contacted by the team of tracers and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Speaking on Tuesday, the First Minister said introducing the system at the "same time as we take the first very cautious steps out of lockdown gives us the opportunity to address any operational issues ahead of a potentially more substantial easing of restrictions".

So far, the only relaxation of restrictions in Scotland has been to allow people to exercise outside more than once a day.