EasyJet staff are to protest against planned cuts and base closures with socially-distanced demonstrations at Newcastle, Southend and Stansted airports.

The protests follow a no-confidence ballot in the airline’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew, which was supported by 99.32% of the Unite union’s 3,000 cabin crew members.

A similar ballot held by pilots’ union Balpa at the weekend was backed by more than 2,000 members. Bellew joined easyJet from Ryanair in January.

The protests against easyJet’s proposed cost-cutting measures and closure of the three bases will take place at Newcastle on Wednesday, Southend on Thursday and Stansted on Friday.

Unite has criticised easyJet’s plans following its decision to pay dividends to shareholders at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis and after it secured £600 million via the Treasury and Bank of England’s coronavirus loan scheme.

Unite regional officer Lindsey Olliver said: “Since Mr Bellew’s arrival at easyJet our members have become increasingly concerned by his actions. They genuinely fear for the longevity and reputation of easyJet with Mr Bellew in his current position. The airline’s crew wear their uniforms with pride, but they are losing faith in the company and feel undervalued and disrespected.

“During the pandemic easyJet has made liberal use of taxpayer funded support through the job retention scheme and a £600m loan as well as paying £174m in shareholder dividends. These redundancies will cause misery, add to the economic upheaval the country is experiencing and hurt regional connectivity.

“EasyJet must halt these closures and redundancies but the government also has its part to play. It is absolutely essential that the job retention scheme is extended for the aviation sector, which has been one of the industries worst hit by the pandemic.”

Olliver added: “The government’s ongoing failure to provide such sector specific support is resulting in huge job losses throughout the industry and is threatening the viability of airlines and airports alike. It is directly responsible for encouraging airlines to make drastic cuts as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

“The aviation industry is essential to the future prosperity of the UK’s economy and it is vital that the government steps up to the plate and provides specific support in line with other nations.”