Gatwick faces huge economic hole as thousands of aviation jobs hang by a thread

New research commissioned by Unite the union has revealed the huge reliance that Crawley and the surrounding area has on the aviation sector.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic Gatwick airport was generating £2.7 billion per annum for the region’s economy.

Fifty per cent of the total workforce in the area surrounding Gatwick airport is connected to the aviation sector, with 24,900 workers employed directly at the airport and a total employment at the airport of 33,200.

Unite is warning that without urgent action by central government to stabilise the aviation sector, jobs dependent on Gatwick airport, including crew, ground staff, engineers and associated retail, transport and other roles, will be swept away.

Unite has produced a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector including airlines and airports to protect the jobs and conditions of workers. Such loans would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring strict environmental standards to be adopted to radically improve the industry’s carbon footprint.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said “Airports are hives of economic activity. Gatwick airport pumps £2.7 billion into the local economy, supporting the jobs and livelihoods of thousands, from air crew to taxi drivers to shop staff.

“If these jobs go then a huge economic hole will open up right across the South East and it could take decades to recover.

“Overnight, airports were effectively shutdown by the government to protect the public’s health but we are now pleading with ministers to protect our area’s long-term economic security.

“We are not asking for a giveaway but for loans that will be repaid when the sector is back on its feet, and we have support for this from across the political spectrum.

“But the clock is ticking. It is more than two months since the chancellor promised that a support package would be forthcoming for aviation but he has yet to deliver. The communities that rely on Gatwick for jobs and their prosperity cannot wait much longer.”

Unite is urging everyone in the local community to contact their local MP to lobby the government and explain how Gatwick airport and the entire aviation sector needs specific financial support.

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