Heathrow Airport has launched a new voluntary redundancy scheme, furloughing its entire head office staff with the exception of its chief executive in a bid to slash costs.
The UK’s largest airport is also set to end subsidised travel for people working on the site, including bus and coach services, Sky News first reported.
According to emails sent by Heathrow executives on Friday, seen by the broadcaster, the company outlined a requirement for staff members to be put on furlough for at least four weeks between the beginning of December and the end of March - when the government’s furlough scheme is due to end. Staff must express interest by next Thursday.
The move, which comes as an attempt to weather the storm caused by COVID-19, applies to all members of the senior management team except its chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
In an email seen by Sky News to Heathrow employees, Paula Stannet, chief people officer, said: "With the extension of the furlough scheme until 31 March 2021, all non-operational colleagues (negotiated and non-negotiated grades) and operational colleagues in non-negotiated grades will be required to take a minimum of four weeks (20 days) of furlough between 1 December and 31 March (pro-rated for part time colleagues).
"This furlough could be taken in one continuous block or as flexi-furlough, for example as one or two days each week. Reduced workload in some teams will mean that some colleagues will also continue to be asked to take longer periods on furlough."
She added that there could be limited exemptions to the requirement as “a number of business-critical roles may not be able to take a full four weeks of furlough”. These exceptional cases must be approved by the People Committee.
It comes as Heathrow is spending around £5m ($6.6m) a day to stay open in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Heathrow recently lost its title as Europe’s busiest airport to Paris's Charles de Gaulle as a result of the health crisis.
Passenger numbers between July and September nosedived more than 84% compared to the same period the year before. Heathrow recorded a total of 18.97 million passengers in the year to the end of September, while Charles de Gaulle had 19.27 million.
Heathrow also posted a loss of £1.5bn in the first nine months as revenues tumbled 72% year-on-year to £239m.
Yahoo Finance reached out to Heathrow Airport for comment.
Watch: Heathrow loses titles of Europe’s busiest airport