BUDGET airline easyJet looks set to close its base at Stansted Airport as it makes drastic cuts to its workforce.

The company says it could cut staff by 30 per cent because of the devastating effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the aviation industry.

The proposals include the potential closure of three of its UK bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle.

Bosses say those airports would remain part of easyJet’s route network.

In a statement, the company said: “easyJet has today started formal consultation on proposals with employee representatives including Balpa and Unite on all of its UK-based pilots and crew.

“We have also informed all employees who may be directly affected by these proposals and will be providing full support to our people during this difficult time.

“We are fully committed to working closely with our employee representatives during these consultations with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.”

The company says the aviation industry is unlikely to bounce back to normal until 2023.

It currently has 163 aircraft at 11 bases in the UK, serving 546 routes and flying more than 52 million passengers to and from the UK every year.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “These are difficult proposals to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time for the airline and the industry as a whole.

“We are focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term health and success so we can protect jobs going forward.

“Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people.”