‘We’re at five minutes to midnight…’

Clock ticking on aviation’s future as govt support yet to lift off

Reading time: 5 min

Unite has warned that the clock is ticking and the delay in the government providing tailored support to the UK’s aviation industry is a serious threat to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Launching its campaign which includes a bespoke film, to defend over one million UK jobs related to aviation, Unite is calling on MPs from across the political spectrum to back its move for a new deal for the sector along the lines of those implemented in other countries.

The union is very concerned that the ‘bespoke package’ promised by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak on March 17 has still not been announced.  Without this support, the entire aviation sector, from air traffic control to the viability of some airports, are at risk – along with jobs right across the country both in aviation directly and in related work such as airplane manufacturing.

Jobs cuts announced

In recent days, at least 28,000 potential job cuts in the sector and associated industries, including, Rolls Royce and British Airways, have been announced.

Unite is calling for the UK government to follow in the footsteps of other governments which have provided significant support for their aviation sectors, led by the United States which is providing $61bn of support to their aviation industry. Germany has provided €9bn, while Holland and France have provided a joint package of €9bn, Italy €600m, Spain €1bn, Singapore $13bn and Australia $715m.

Unite is pressing for the government to acknowledge aviation as a strategically vital sector, just as competitor economies do, not just to support the 1.2m workers who rely on the aviation and aerospace sector for work but also for the regional connectivity aviation provides and its important role in everything from supporting supply chains to moving NHS medicines and PPE.

Launching the campaign to rally support for the sector, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said, “The government has the future of the aviation sector in its hands.

“The clock is at five to midnight.  We cannot have further delay – we urgently need that programme of support promised two months ago to emerge in order to stabilise this very vulnerable sector and avert massive job losses.”

There’s no doubt of the massive, devastating impact Covid-19 has had on aviation – a fact recognised worldwide.

“It is so serious that it requires a strategic package of government support as it rebuilds and as confidence is restored,” believes Holland. “Aviation is central to our economy and in linking people together, connecting regions and providing jobs,” she added.

And a package to support this is also a real opportunity to green an often criticised ‘carbon footprint creating’ industry.

Holland continued, “As an island we need a viable aviation sector for trade, medicines, mail and work. Air travel is far more than just a leisure activity.

“Governments in Europe and globally have provided financial support for their aviation sectors because they recognise it is vital to an economy, and the UK government needs to do the same,” she concluded.

Blueprint for aviation industry survival

Unite has launched a blueprint for the survival of the aviation industry and related jobs. In it Unite calls on the government to provide loans and/or take a financial stake in companies, with all loans and stakes to be fully repayable; companies who join in such a scheme are prohibited from paying dividends, undertaking share buybacks or capital contributions, until 12 months after the loan is fully repaid; with all elements of executive pay capped.

Unite also wants employment and employee terms and conditions protected, with any reduction in workforce restricted to 10 per cent or less.

Companies eligible for such support would either be suffering losses, acting to consolidate business, or to rescue or replace a part of the sector that no longer exists.

All financial support and loans should be provided on the condition that recipients have a clear programme of transition to more efficient and greener operations; and smaller airports and air traffic control, as well as specific public service obligation routes within the UK’s aviation network, should be publicly financed to retain much needed and vital connectivity.

Unite represents over 65,000 workers in the aviation sector.

FIND OUT MORE: Read about Unite’s aviation blueprint


  • Stay tuned to UNITElive for more aviation sector news – and don’t forget to look out the Parliamentary Select Committee’s debate this Wednesday (May 20) at 09.30 am


By UNITElive team @unitetheunion

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