UK: 430 jobs at risk as Thomas Cook cuts airline fleet

AROUND 430 jobs are at risk at Thomas Cook after the beleaguered tour operator revealed plans to cut its aircraft fleet to slash costs.

The UK’s second-biggest travel company aims to reduce the number of planes it operates from 35 to 31, returning four aircraft at the end of their lease term.

Thomas Cook said the plan will be put to consultation and warned it expects the move to hit 430 staff, including pilots and cabin crew.

The group, which was recently forced to turn to its banks for an additional �200million of loans, has scaled back the size of its own airline in the past year and entered into a partnership with easyJet.

Thomas Cook’s air travel division currently employs just over 3,100 staff and the cuts will be made among flight crew across the department.

Christoph Debus, group head of air travel at Thomas Cook, said: “This is a very difficult decision, but necessary to deliver a successful transformation and build a sustainable business for the future, which will continue to offer opportunities for the 2,700 people employed with us after these proposed changes.”

The group said its own airline, which last year flew 6.8million passengers, would continue to serve all of its key routes.

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Thomas Cook was plunged into crisis last November after it turned to its lenders for help, sparking fears of a collapse.

It appointed former Premier Farnell boss Harriet Green to lead its turnaround as its chief executive.

As well as reducing its aircraft fleet, it has sold five Spanish hotels and its Indian arm as part of the strategy to reduce its debt mountain of around �1billion.