JD Wetherspoon said it would be forced to cut jobs at airport sites on the day that new industry measures were announced to halt the spread of Covid-19.
The pub chain has suffered lower footfall at the airport locations due to the downturn in overseas travel.
It has written to 1,000 people employed in its pubs at six airports – Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow – to inform them that a possible 400 to 450 positions are at risk of redundancy.
Chief executive John Hutson said: “The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports.
“We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage. The company will listen to suggestions from staff to help avoid or reduce the number of compulsory redundancies which are required.’
Mr Hutson said JD Wetherspoon is proposing to collectively consult with employees through an employment representative committee, which will be established for this purpose.