Wetherspoons said it could cut between 400 and 450 jobs at six of its pubs based at UK airports as the slump in travel and holidays has hit the business.
The proposed job cuts, which would equate to almost half of all its 1,000 airport staff, are at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.
‘The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports,’ said Wetherspoon’s chief executive, John Hutson.
‘We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage.’
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of travellers and holiday makers going through UK airports has dipped, with many airports closing down terminals and sending staff home.
The latest round of proposed redundancies at Wetherspoon adds to between 110 to 130 head office job cuts announced by the pub group less than two months ago.
‘Wetherspoon is proposing to collectively consult with employees through an employment representative committee, which will be established for this purpose,’ Hutson added.
The news comes as the Government is expected to announce shortly a 10pm curfew on British pubs to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely announce the curfew, to start on Thursday night, later today.
It marks a major new policy direction after ministers encouraged customers back into Britain’s pubs and restaurants by promising to pick up half the tab for their meals for 13 days in August.
Last month, Wetherspoons warned that the coronavirus crisis will push it into the red despite a ‘rapid acceleration’ in sales thanks to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.
The pub chain told investors that equivalent bar and food sales in the 44 days to August 16 were 16.9 per cent lower than in the same period last year and expected to post a loss for the year to July 26.
Wetherspoon’s shares fell at the open this morning, but news of job cuts seem to have cheered investors, with shares trading 1 per cent higher at 781p.
Mass layoffs have already blighted the hospitality industry, with Premier Inn owner Whitbread also warning of 6,000 cuts today.
Whitbread said that the cuts – which equate to about 18 per cent of its total workforce – are in response to lower demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.