Ryanair pilots have voted to accept a 20% pay reduction in order to save 260 of 330 jobs under threat in cost-cutting proposals.

Pilots union Balpa said 96% of members employed by Ryanair had voted to accept a package of cost savings designed to mitigate the proposed cuts.

Most of the remaining pilot jobs under threat are linked to possible base closures at Leeds Bradford, Prestwick, Bournemouth and Southend. Balpa said it remained in negotiations with Ryanair over those proposals.

In a statement, the union said it had negotiated to ensure the pay reductions would be restored to 100% over the next four years.

Brian Strutton, Balpa general secretary, said: “This is a terrible time for aviation and for employees in all airlines.

“It was our members’ mandate for us to save as many jobs as possible. In the circumstances this is the right thing to do even if it means accepting difficult temporary reductions in pay.

“We do not relish accepting pay cuts and this is going to be tough for many of our pilot members. But we are at least pleased to have ensured that the overwhelming number of pilots whose jobs were at risk will continue to be employed.”

The agreement will “minimise UK pilot job losses”.

Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson said: “We welcome this week’s result that 96% of Balpa members have voted in favour of a four-year agreement on 20% pay cuts and productivity improvements on rosters and flexible working patterns to save the maximum number of UK pilot jobs.

“The strength of this vote demonstrates the commitment from our pilots in the UK to work with Ryanair as we work our way through this crisis over the next number of years.”