Newquay and Exeter airports crucial to South West’s economy as aviation jobs hang by a thread

New research, commissioned by Unite the union, has revealed that securing the future of Newquay and Exeter airports is crucial to the wellbeing of the regional economy of the South West.

Newquay Airport generates £48 million per annum for the South West of England, while Exeter Airport contributes £150 million.

About 700 jobs are supported by Newquay airport, which also supports a cluster of aerospace companies, while Exeter supports the employment of 3,000 people on and offsite.

Unite is warning that without urgent action by central government to stabilise the aviation sector, jobs dependent on Newquay and Exeter airports, 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 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.

The blueprint also recognises that in order to secure their future airports of the size of Newquay and Exeter may need a different ownership model in order to flourish, with public ownership or a public private partnership being an alternative.

Unite regional coordinating officer Terry Keefe said: “Airports are hives of economic activity. Newquay and Exeter airports together pumps £198 million into the South West economy, supporting the jobs and livelihoods of scores of workers, from air crew to taxi drivers to shop staff.

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

“Overnight, airports were effectively shut down by the government to protect the public’s health, but we are now pleading with government 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 Exeter and Newquay airports for jobs and their prosperity cannot wait much longer.”

Unite is calling on everyone whose work is connected to the airports or who is concerned about their future to email their MP and call for support for the airport and the UK’s entire aviation sector.

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