Manchester Airport staff are facing another round of redundancies as the hub struggles amid pandemic restrictions.
It's understood 138 jobs are at risk at the hub, as Unite members ballot on a proposal which could save the roles through the workforce taking pay reductions instead.
It follows an incredibly tough year for the workforce, which has already lost 465 of its number to redundancy - with more than 1,500 jobs cut by external contractors - and a 10 per cent pay cut across the board.
But Unite the union members are now being balloted on a proposal that would suspend the need for further redundancies.
The proposal, hammered out by the union and hub bosses, would see staff move to a 20pc reduction in line with the Government's furlough scheme if they are not needed to work, with the freedom to also seek work elsewhere.
Meanwhile, those who continue to work would receive 90pc of their wages, regardless of how much they work. This would increase to full pay for those working 85pc or above of their normal hours.
Lawrence Chapple-Gill, Unite regional coordinating Officer, told the Manchester Evening News the proposal was a 'genuine attempt by the airport and the union to safeguard jobs and protect rates of pay as far as possible'.
He said if members vote in favour, it would bring some stability until the furlough scheme expires in September, when it's hoped there will be more security for the travel sector as a whole.
He added: "The agreement would be that for the duration of the furlough scheme there would be no compulsory redundancies.
"The intention and certainly the hope is that between now and the end of September we'd be able to see those redundancies mitigated or avoided."
He added: "We are all about protecting jobs to the maximum and also trying to protect pay. We think in the circumstances the aviation industry find itself at the moment we've got an agreement worthy of acceptance but it's up to members to decide.
"Redundancies will hopefully be avoided - and certainly for the duration of the furlough scheme."
Staff had already taken a 10 per cent pay cut last year after Covid-19 restrictions led to plummeting passenger numbers and left just one terminal operational.
But without a firm plan for when international travel will fully return, the proposal on the table would see quarterly reviews on those staff asked to work and those continuing on furlough, starting in April.
Where there is no available work, staff would be paid 80pc of their wage in line with the Government's furlough scheme. They would also be allowed to find work elsewhere.
Those who continued to work would receive 90pc of their salaries, regardless of how many hours they work. This would increase to full pay for those working 85pc or above of their normal hours.
This work would be allocated on a 'fair share' basis subject to rosters, skills and experience. It's understood these salaries would not fall below national minimum wage.
A spokesman from Manchester Airports Group, which runs the hub along with Stansted and East Midlands airports, described the last year as the 'most challenging in our history, with aviation hit harder by Covid-19 than any other sector'.
He added : " As a result, tens of thousands of people have sadly already lost their jobs across the industry.
"MAG has not been immune to these challenges and, having significantly reduced in size during the course of last year, we are currently consulting on a limited number of further redundancies across our three airports.
"Separately, we are in discussions with our Trade Unions over proposals to avoid further compulsory redundancies though new temporary pay and working arrangements for the year ahead.
"This reflects the fact that there remains some uncertainty over the nature and timing of international travel resuming and how that will impact our operations."
“If approved, these arrangements will enable colleagues to return to work on full pay as soon as the industry recovers.
“The overarching aim of these discussions is to protect jobs and deliver the best possible outcome for our people in the circumstances and we would like to thank our Trade Unions for their cooperation.
“As these discussions are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”