London City airport has revealed plans to axe a third of its workforce.

The East London airport is restructuring and plans to cut 239 roles in an attempt to recover during the pandemic.

London City was closed for three months and now only operates 17 routes.

“The aviation sector is in the throes of the biggest downturn it has ever experienced as a result of the pandemic. We have held off looking at job losses for as long as possible, but sadly we are not immune from the devastating impact of this virus,” said Robert Sinclair, the chief executive.

“We believe that the difficult decisions we are taking now will enable the airport to bounce back in a better shape when growth returns.”

Since reopening, the airport expects passenger numbers to stay well below 2019 levels and has cut all non-essential spending.

The aviation sector has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Gatwick has announced 1,300 job cuts, whilst Heathrow is cutting 1,200 roles. The Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, warned this week that the London borough of Hounslow could risk becoming like “a mining town in the 1980s”, if flying doesn’t continue.

“It has really been killed by the quarantine … What we have seen is that when people can fly, they will. Other countries – even Jersey – have introduced testing, very successfully. We don’t understand why the government doesn’t do similar things, not just to support aviation but all the businesses that depend on it,” he said.

Airlines including eastJet and British Airways have also cut thousands of roles.

Airlines UK, the industry body, wrote the government to plea for airport testing as an alternative to quarantine.

“Given the huge challenges being faced by the travel sector and the scale of job losses, it makes sense to look at this area as part of a wider package of improvements to the testing regime,” it said in the letter.