EASYJET’s under-fire boss was forced to make a second apology in two days after slamming the “ridiculous hype” surrounding coronavirus.
Peter Bellew also savaged the “ridiculous press coverage” the crisis is getting.
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His comments, in a video sent to staff, led to claims he is “out of touch” – and prompted another excruciating climbdown.
Speaking from Gatwick’s crew room, the airline chief said in a vid to staff: “Despite all the ridiculous hype that is going on about the virus we had full first wave operating and great cooperation from the crew.”
He then told of the importance of all cabin crew reporting for duty despite the impact of the deadly virus.
Mr Bellew said: “While we have less passenger numbers we really need to focus on better on-time performance.
“I need everybody please to show up for work at the moment and inspire of all the ridiculous press coverage it is getting.
“We will do the safe thing by our customers and our staff.”
His comments emerged yesterday after Mr Bellew was forced to say sorry to his pilots and staff about a separate video message.
In another gaffe he heavily plagiarised Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s address to the nation on St Patrick’s Day.
A video of both speeches appeared online, showing Bellew using the exact same turns of phrase Varadkar had said only days previously.
In an apology to staff, Bellew said he “put his hands up” and said he had borrowed a few phrases from the Taoiseach.
He also apologised through The Sun for his video last month when he appeared to rubbish concern over coronavirus.
EasyJet said: “This internal video was posted on 27 February. Nevertheless the language used to describe the pandemic was insensitive and inappropriate and we are sorry for any upset caused by this.”
GROUNDED Coronavirus forces EasyJet, British Airways, Norwegian and Virgin to ground planes and some temporarily layoff staff
On Friday, The Sun revealed easyJet said it would ground the majority of its planes, mirroring moves by other carriers worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic.
EasyJet issued an updated ‘coronavirus cooperation contract’ to crew in a bid to survive – paying staff 50 per cent of their salary over four months or 67 per cent of it over six months.
Anger among the workforce came as it was reported the no-frills carrier’s bosses had agreed just a 20 per cent pay reduction themselves.
The latest offer came as an MP wrote to the government complaining at the actions of the airline’s chief operations officer Peter Bellew.
His first bid to persuade pilots and crew to accept a new virus-induced work contract was rejected.
In the reworked document, he stated staff must take a block of two months unpaid leave between April and the end of May this year.
He said: “To minimise the impact, we will give you an advance of part of your wages during your unpaid leave, which you agree to re-pay on your return to work.”
The letter went on: “Instead of receiving no pay during your unpaid leave you will instead receive an advance of your future salary at 50 per cent between April and July or at 67 per cent between April and September.”
Mr Bellew, formerly of Ryanair, has warned that if crew and pilots don’t agree the new measures they will face redundancy.
His letter came as Rachel Hopkins, MP for Luton South, wrote to chancellor Rushi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps.
She said: “I have received a number of reports from constituents desperately worried at the decisions being taken by EasyJet’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Bellew to pressurise cabin crew staff into accepting detrimental changes to their terms and conditions, or face the threat of redundancy, all whilst being asked to take 3 months of unpaid leave.”
The Sun told how easyJet has warned 3,000 staff face losing their jobs as flights have been axed.
EasyJet also said: “We continue to consult with our employee representatives on how they can help the airline navigate through these unprecedented times.
“Like all airlines, we are taking every action to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level to help mitigate the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We fully appreciate the difficulty and uncertainty that our people are facing and we are doing everything we can to preserve their jobs so easyJet can return to flying once the pandemic is over.”
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