Labour's shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, has written to the transport secretary calling on the Government to 'urgently' bring forward a plan to protect the aviation industry.
As Mr McMahon outlines in the letter the aviation sector has been dealt a devastating blow from the COVID-19 crisis, with more than 22,000 jobs in danger.
It has seen a reduction of air traffic of around 90%, prompting an avalanche of redundancy warnings from major companies.
- BA is to cut 12,000 jobs, over a quarter of its workforce, and make singificant changes to workers terms and conditions,
- Virgin Atlantic has announced that 3,000 staff are under threat of redundancy
- Easyjet has announced plans to make 4,500 staff redundant
- GE, which has a plant in south wales, is making a quarter of its worldwide workforce redundant
- Ryanair announced plans for 3,000 job losses, which will impact UK workforce
This all comes after the recent collapse of Monarch, Flybe and Thomas Cook, suggesting elements of the crowded short haul holiday market were already in dire straights.
Labout has outlined its position in reaction to concerns not only about the sustainability of the sector but also to reports that companies like BA plan to take government bailouts and other financial support and shed staff regardless.
The chair of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman MP, recently commented: 'It is very disappointing that British Airways seem determined to press ahead with devastating cuts to their workforce despite the Government furlough scheme being extended until the end of October.
'On the one hand, BA are happy to take taxpayers’ money from the furlough scheme which was designed to help companies avoid redundancies. Yet on the other, BA is ploughing ahead with a cull of their workforce and a lowering of terms and conditions. This is not what people would expect from our national flag carrier. BA’s loyal staff deserve better than to be treated like this.'
Labour has called for any government bailout to have the following conditions
- That jobs are protected, and staff salaries are portected with a clear commitment to workers' rights
- That there is a clar commitment to tackling climate change and for the industry to use cleaner fuels and other cutting edge low or zero emissions technology
- Any company in reciept of money must ensure its tax base is in the UK
- No dividends should be paid until the company is proven to be commerically viable, as we have seen in other countries
- A commitment o pay uk based suppliers as a priority
- All operators fully comply, without delay, with all consumer rights regulations - particuarly regarding customer refunds, and that they offer customers the opportunity to choose the greenest flight option
The UK is home to the largest aviation network in Europe and the aviation industry contirbutes £22bn and 230,000 jobs to the UK economy.