'Too little, too late'

Government promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ for aviation industry will not end job loss crisis

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Government proposals to launch an aviation recovery plan this autumn to provide support for the sector until 2025 will not end the ongoing aviation jobs haemorrhage currently occurring, Unite has warned.

Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said, “Aviation workers are being promised jam tomorrow when what they need is bread and butter today.

“The government’s recovery programme needs to go much further than rehash previous policies. What we need are genuine solutions which will instil the confidence in the industry that it can recover from the effects of the pandemic, and will enable them to plan accordingly.

“The publication this autumn of a report, which is aimed at helping the aviation industry recover by 2025, is not going to stem the tidal wave of redundancies that the industry is facing today,” he added.

“The industry is making decisions on job cuts based on the lack of tangible assistance from government, and until such real practical support is provided the loss of jobs will continue.

“It is all very well the government talking about the recovery of the aviation industry by 2025, but airlines and airports are at real risk of closure, unless immediate action is taken there will simply not be a recognisable sector to build back up.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said, “The fact that the government is finally developing a plan to support the aviation sector is welcome.

“While this is an important step, it cannot be forgotten that it is six months since support for the aviation sector was first promised by government.

“Thousands of jobs in the aviation sector have already been lost and many more redundancies are already in the pipeline,” she added.

“The publication of a report ‘in the autumn’ is too late. Not only must this report be published immediately, it must include immediate assistance to the industry.

“Direct intervention by the government to protect jobs is the only way that aviation companies are going to reconsider shedding jobs and prevent the loss of a professional, skilled, experienced and dedicated workforce,” Holland went on to say.

Last month a cross party alliance of over 100 MPs wrote to the chancellor Rishi Sunak to call for the job retention scheme to be extended for the aviation industry.

Together with the TUC and all aviation unions, Unite is calling for the government to take on the economic and fiscal measures needed to support the sector.

These include the extension of, and modifications to, the coronavirus job retention scheme to protect employment in the aviation sector as well as the suspension of air passenger duty.

Unite is also calling for public service obligation routes to ensure regional connectivity; business rate relief for airports (as in Scotland and Northern Ireland); and an extension of the period of repayment of loans to aviation companies beyond the current two year maximum.

The full list of measures can be found on Unite’s urgent summer update to its ‘Flying into the Future’ blueprint, which was first published in May in response to the coronavirus crisis.

By Barckley Sumner

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