Plans for up to 4,500 job losses at easyJet have been attacked by a union as being “unnecessarily hasty”.

Unite, which represents more than 68,000 aviation workers, warned that the cuts are a reminder of the “perilous state” of the aviation sector.

The news underlines the “urgent need” for the government to bring forward a package of support.

Unite officer for easyJet, Lindsey Olliver, said: “The announcement that easyJet is planning to make 30% of its workforce redundant is an unnecessarily hasty decision.

“The workforce is currently furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme and the airline will continue to receive support until at least October. It has also received a government backed loan of £600 million and has committed to expenditure on new aircraft.

“Unite has not yet been consulted about easyJet’s plans and does not at this stage have details about where in the business the job losses are planned.

“Unite will be seeking clarification from the company and will maintain that any proposals to reduce jobs could and should be delayed.”

The union’s national officer for civil aviation, Oliver Richardson, added: “The statement from easyJet follows the announcements of proposed job losses by other airlines and again demonstrates why it is imperative that the government urgently brings forward a bespoke plan to provide assistance to the UK’s aviation sector.

“The UK is an island nation and aviation is strategically crucial for the long-term economic success of the country.

“Aviation needs urgent financial support to overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it cannot simply be left to the market to sort out.

“It is the sector which has been most affected with flights being effectively halted, and without government support the sector it will take decades to recover seriously damaging the local and regional economies which rely on aviation for their financial success.”