Trade union Unite has demanded assurances there will be no compulsory redundancies at Thomson Airways following the carrier’s decision to cut up to 600 cabin crew jobs.

Thomson Airways, the UK’s biggest charter carrier and part of the Tui Travel group, informed Unite officials yesterday of plans to start a 90-day consultation with staff in line with a decision to make changes to its aircraft fleet.

The union made clear it will work with the company, but said it would not accept compulsory job losses.

In a statement today, Unite confirmed Thomson Airways had informed it of plans “to reduce the number of cabin crew by around 600”.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: “These cuts are a blow to the workforce during a time of economic uncertainty. Unite will be working constructively with the company and we are confident we can substantially mitigate the impact of these cuts.

“However, Unite is adamant that compulsory redundancies are out of the question. We expect firm assurances from Thomson Airways that the company will not go down this route.”

Thomson Airways declined to confirm the number of redundancies it is seeking, but did not deny the figure of 600 confirmed by Unite.

The airline issued a brief statement yesterday confirming a 90-day consultation with cabin crew would begin this month. It said: “This is a result of our drive to become more efficient, which includes changes to the aircraft fleet.”

A company source conceded the planned replacement of Thomson’s fleet of Boeing 757s with smaller 737 aircraft would not explain such a large reduction in cabin crew.