EasyJet is to close its East Midlands base and cut flights from Luton.

The airline said it would move 40% of its services from Luton to other airports, claiming charges at Luton have increased 25% in the past three years.

It said negotiations had failed with Abertis, the Spanish operator of Luton, and the airport owner Luton Borough Council. EasyJet currently operates 16 aircraft and carries 4.7 million passengers a year from Luton.

The no-frills carrier has also decided to close its East Midlands base, where it operates three aircraft and employs 120 staff. Flights to and from the aiport will be unaffected until the end of the year.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said: “A critical part of our success has been optimising the allocation of our aircraft across our 19 European bases. This means responding to airports with uncompetitive costs, as well as moving swiftly to seize opportunities as competitors retreat.

“In regard to East Midlands, we cannot see a long-term future, and we have decided to move our assets to markets with better long-term potential.”

EasyJet has opened a formal 90-day consultation with its crew at Luton and East Midlands. Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said the union has meetings scheduled with the airline.

“This is extremely worrying news for the staff at the airline. EasyJet’s business model makes it a flexible company, so there are no excuses for compulsory redundancies if the company works constructively with Unite.”

Earlier this week, low cost airline which operated out of Luton SkyEurope filed for bankruptcy and cancelled all flights.