New research commissioned by Unite the union has revealed the critical nature that Heathrow’s financial wellbeing has on the surrounding area and both the regional and national economy.
Heathrow’s importance to the economy is underlined by the fact that it generates £9.7 billion to the UK’s Gross Value Added income and that it supports around 190,000 jobs across the UK.
In total 84,400 people are directly employed at the airport, which hosts 320 businesses making it the largest workplace in Europe. One in five of local jobs are based at the airport and 40 per cent of the workforce in the surrounding area is employed in the aviation sector.
Unite is warning that without urgent action by central government to stabilise the aviation sector, jobs dependent on Heathrow 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 coordinating officer Wayne King said “Airports are hives of economic activity. The success of Heathrow is critical to the local, regional and national economies. Heathrow supports the jobs and livelihoods of thousands, from air crew to caterers to shop staff.
“If these jobs go then a huge economic hole will open up right across London and the South East and it will take decades to recover. Entire families in the local communities, who work at Heathrow Airport, could be made redundant.
“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.
“Time is running out. 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 Heathrow for jobs and their prosperity cannot wait much longer. The government must act to support the thousands of Unite members and their families from potential long-term unemployment.”