Coronavirus: Government must act now to protect aviation jobs

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, which represents tens of thousands of workers throughout the entire aviation industry, is calling on the government to listen to UK airlines and provide immediate support for the whole sector, in order to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic.

UK Airlines the trade body that represents the industry has written to the government seeking several billion pounds in immediate assistance and it warned without help airlines would not survive.


The aviation industry has been rocked by coronavirus, with flight cancellations and the grounding of flights which is severely impacting on airports.

Without the government’s help, the aviation industry could plunge into an unprecedented crisis, with thousands of jobs under threat. It needs government funding now, to be able to manage through what will effectively be a period of dormancy during the next difficult period.

Four point plan

Unite alongside sister aviation unions across Europe has devised a four point plan, which it believe the government must adopt to ensure the whole industry survives. The four points are:

  • The government to make contributions to cover workers’ pay to ensure that the UK’s aviation infrastructure remains intact, and the consideration of taking a commensurate financial stake in airlines and airports to help ensure their survival
  • The extension of loans to airlines and airports and other aviation companies to enable them to ease the pressure of the immediate pay back of loans and to assist in the retention of staff and the preservation of 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 routes through subsidies under public service obligation rules, which are tied to long-term environmental commitments as part of an integrated sustainable transport network.

Unite believes that such assistance must apply to the whole industry including airports (national and regional) and its supply chain so that once the current crisis is over the industry can resume.


Unite is engaged in negotiations throughout the aviation industry over staff taking voluntary unpaid leave, temporary lay-offs of workers and redundancies as the sector tries to contend with a huge and unprecedented drop in flights and passenger numbers with many routes currently not being flown at all.

Other European countries including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are already working on measures to support their aviation industries.

Decisive action

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “The government must act decisively and act now, so that when the coronavirus crisis ends there will still be a UK aviation industry.

 “Up and down the UK Unite is working with airlines, airports and the supply chain, to preserve jobs and companies for the future and it is essential that the government plays its part.

 “The challenges faced by the UK aviation industry at this moment are entirely unprecedented and all solutions to support the sector must be fully considered.”

 “The aviation industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers and they are all looking at the government for immediate help, to ensure they will still have jobs in the future.”

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