Northern Ireland news

EasyJet apologises for copying parts of Leo Varadkar coronavirus speech in motivational message to staff

Peter Bellew issued an apology for replicating parts of Leo Varadkar's speech on the coronavirus crisis. Picture from YouTube
John Monaghan

EASYJET has apologised after sending its staff a motivational video which copied parts of a speech delivered by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on St Patrick's Day addressing the coronavirus crisis.

Pilots and cabin crew have been asked to consider accepting a range of measures including pay freezes, changes to meals provided to crews, and extended unpaid leave as the airline battles the collapse in demand caused by the pandemic.

On Friday, the airline announced that the majority of its fleet will be grounded from today, with staff asked to take three months of unpaid leave.

Some clips from the video of easyJet's chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, replicate entire parts of Mr Varadkar's speech.

In an apology to staff on Saturday, Mr Bellew said he "can only hold my hands up and apologise" for the message.

“Some of you have spotted similarities between the message I did last week and a recent speech by the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. I can only hold my hands up and apologise.

"I thought the Taoiseach struck exactly the right note and it really resonated in my mind with what we are going through, so I borrowed some of his phrases in my recent message to cabin crew and pilots, which I realise now I should not have done.

“I would like to say sorry to the Taoiseach and to all of you. I will write all of my own speeches in future," he said.

The BALPA and Unite unions are believed to have rejected the plans and issued a counterproposal.

Despite the current crisis, EasyJet is understood to be proceeding with a payout of £174 million in dividends to investors, including £60 million for founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

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