REDUNDANT cabin crew are taking on budget airline easyJet over claims of unfair dismissal and age discrimination.

The group of 10 former senior flight attendants based at Newcastle International Airport all got the axe last December as part of a nationwide cut in senior staff by the airline.

Based on certain criteria the group, which includes Kurt Bickby, Rachel Poppleton and Ricky Mussett, were selected for redundancy from a pool of 46 senior staff all based at Newcastle.

But on the opening day of a two-week tribunal yesterday, ex-stewardess Jane Howard, leading the group’s action, claimed all 10 had been dismissed unfairly because of errors with the redundancy procedure.

The tribunal, overseen by employment judge John Hunter at Newcastle’s Quayside House, also heard the group believed they were discriminated against because of their age, on average five-years-older than other cabin crew.

But Charles Althorp, representing easyJet, said senior staff had been targeted as a “measure to reduce the head count of redundancy” adding the cuts were necessary because of a reduction in aircraft based at Newcastle. It was September 2009 when easyJet first announced it would be consulting with senior staff with a view to making 27 senior cabin crew redundant across various bases.

Newcastle was among the hardest hit with 11 redundancies. Stanstead also saw 11 redundancies with five in Belfast.

Giving evidence at the start of what Mr Hunter branded a “mammoth” hearing Mrs Howard, married to a captain also based at Newcastle, said: “We believe it was unfair on a number of grounds and it was individual discrimination because of our ages.

“We had no idea about the process at this stage.”

All 46 staff were scored on criteria against a selection matrix with Mrs Howard achieving 85 points out of a possible 107.5.

She appealed against her score sending numerous letters to managers at the firm including one to easyJet chief executive asking them to “take control of what was becoming a redundancy shambles”.

The group then applied under the Freedom of Information Act to see details of their individual personal records during their time with the airline. The group claim they received very little information from the company.

Mrs Howard appealed against her selection for redundancy but on January 27 was told she’d been unsuccessful.

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