Heathrow chief John Holland-Kaye has rejected union calls to rethink the airport’s plans to cut jobs and pay following the government’s announcement of a new Job Support Scheme.

Trade union Unite called on Friday for Heathrow to withdraw section 188 redundancy notices, but Heathrow chief executive Holland-Kaye insisted the Chancellor’s announcement “is not a game changer”.

He told Travel Weekly: “I don’t think it will [make a difference] because we started the process long before we started getting to this second wave [of Covid-18].”

Heathrow issued redundancy consultation notices to more than 4,000 workers, including engineers, airside workers and security staff, at the start of September.

Unite has said the airport proposes pay cuts of up to 24% or £8,000 a year and urged Heathrow “to halt its ‘brutal’ plans following the Chancellor’s announcement”.

Wayne King, Unite regional co-ordinating officer, said: “The cliff edge of the ending of the job retention scheme has been avoided. Heathrow has a moral duty to halt its plans. The section 188 notices should be immediately withdrawn.”

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Holland-Kaye said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement.

“If it can help to protect a few more jobs, then it’s doubly welcome because that is one of the things that is most important in this crisis, to protect as many jobs as we can.

“It will relieve some of the added pressure on us. [But] even the Job Retention Scheme we have had in place over the last six months has only made a small contribution to the overall cost challenge we have.

“So while it’s welcome, it’s not a game changer by any means.”

Holland-Kaye said: “We are very grateful the Chancellor has at least given a bit more breathing space than would otherwise have been the case.

“We can see we could be living with Covid for a long time.

“People have been talking about trying to avoid a second wave. We don’t know how many waves we’re going to have and how long we’ll need to survive with a very much reduced level of passengers, but we can see aviation will be one of the last sectors to recover.”

He added: “We’re doing everything we can to reduce the amount of cash we’re burning through.”

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