Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, is calling on the chancellor to take swift action to protect the aviation industry, which is threatening an immediate crisis, due to a dramatic drop in booking as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Drop in bookings
It has already been recognised that the drop in bookings due to the coronavirus accelerated the collapse of regional airliner Flybe last week and other major carriers are already trying to deal with the impact by offering staff a voluntary unpaid leave of absence until bookings recover.
In order to offset job losses and preserve the integrity of the industry for the future Unite is joining with other unions across Europe and calling for the government act in particular to address the impact on airline cash flow due to the dramatic drop in bookings as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19)and to introduce:
- The extension of loans to airlines and airports to enable them to ease the pressure of the immediate pay back of loans, to assist in retention and preservation routes
- A delay in the payment of taxes and duties that airlines are obliged to pay including a temporary suspension or reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD)
- Government to support additional routes which would be open to subsidy as routes under public service obligation rules, tied to long-term environmental commitments as part of an integrated sustainable transport network.
Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “The aviation industry is presently facing a crisis on a par with the banks in 2008. Unite is calling on the government to take immediate action, to stop real danger of irreparable damage occurring to the industry and the impact this has throughout the economy, regions and on people’s lives.
“Last week 2,000 workers at Flybe lost their jobs when the airline collapsed. Unite is deeply concerned that without recognition of the need for immediate government support, thousands more jobs are at risk.
“The government and the chancellor in particular must use all levers available to provide immediate financial assistance to support the future of the industry.
“Airlines have already initiated talks with unions to find ways to deal with the calamitous collapse in bookings, which could lead to workers not being paid or losing their jobs.
“The government had earmarked a £100 million to support Flybe. It should be utilised to encourage new carriers to take on those routes in order to preserve regional connectivity and keep regional airports open.
“A delay in providing support to the industry is not an option, if jobs and services are to be preserved then action must be taken immediately.”