Manchester Airport owner could cut over 800 jobs on virus hit

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FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester

(Reuters) - The owner of Britain's Manchester Airport said on Wednesday it could cut over 800 jobs at its airports as it began talks with unions, after the COVID-19 pandemic kept travellers at home and brought airport operations to a near standstill.

Privately held Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which also owns the London Stansted and East Midlands airports, said its current monthly demand was 75% below normal levels, adding that the end of the government's furlough scheme would also hurt its finances.

Strict lockdowns and quarantine protocols in the early stages of the pandemic hurt many in the aviation industry, and renewed curbs have dented sentiment further, with airlines and operators taking steps such as layoffs to save cash.

"By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand. Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened," Chief Executive Officer Charlie Cornish said in an emailed statement.

MAG said 465 roles at Manchester Airport, 376 at Stansted and 51 roles at East Midlands could be reduced, and warned that overall passenger demand was not expected to recover fully before 2023-24.

Separately on Wednesday, Britain's transport minister said the country will launch an urgent study to find out how to reduce the COVID-19 quarantine period in a bid to open up travel and boost businesses.

Manchester Airport was Britain's third-busiest airport behind London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports before the global crisis struck.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Shailesh Kuber)

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