Aviation services company John Menzies has reduced its workforce worldwide by 17,500 because of the impact of the spread of coronavirus on business.
The Edinburgh based firm said the move was part of its cost reduction initiatives, which have been necessary because of a decline in air travel.
“Reductions are being supported in some countries by governmental schemes and we hope that in the fullness of time a high number of these employees can return to the business,” a trading update published on Friday said.
Menzies provides fuelling, ground handling and cargo handling services at more than 200 locations. It has operations in 34 different countries.
The pandemic has meant flights handled in the past two weeks have been down by 60%, while volumes in the cargo sector have dropped by 20%.
Giles Wilson, chief executive said: “John Menzies plc has existed since 1833 and been listed since 1962 but never have we faced such difficult and unpredictable times.
“Our industry has been one of the most affected by Covid-19 and we are doing everything we can to reduce costs whilst looking after the needs of our employees.
“I now look to our government to support our business and for them to provide the support required to help the UK aviation sector to navigate this crisis.
“For the aviation supply chain to function it requires a strong inter-reliant chain of airlines, airports and service providers.
“Without these three components of the supply chain, working together, the sector will not function.
“Handlers such as Menzies are therefore essential to the recovery and future success of the UK and global aviation industry.”