The TUC has said that allowing quarantine exemptions or "air bridges" will not be enough to save the airline industry, as the government announced a list of 73 destinations holidaymakers will be free to travel to from Saturday.
The union body has warned that there is a narrow window in which to act to save jobs and businesses in the sector, which according to the most recent ONS figures has suffered the sharpest decline in output of any industrial area.·
It has called for urgent interventions from ministers, including an extension of the job retention scheme and for the government to take equity stakes in aviation companies at risk of going under.
The TUC has said that with 59,000 aviation workers – 25 per cent of the sector’s workforce — currently furloughed, there is a strong danger that companies will start to lay off large numbers of workers and in some cases close down entirely when the job retention scheme winds down.
Already this week, Airbus has announced 15,000 job cuts, while EasyJet has said it will cut up to 30% of its workforce - around 4,500 jobs.
The union body has called for the government to intervene to protect the sector, highlighting the key role that aviation plays in facilitating activity and recovery in other parts of the economy, and in supporting regional economic development.
The TUC has also called for ministers to support the greening of the aviation sector, which would make a significant contribution to cutting the UK’s carbon footprint, and says without improvements in aviation our targets will not be reached.
It has said that the government should establish an aviation recovery panel, bringing together representatives of aviation workers and employers and other relevant aviation bodies, to develop an aviation route map to look ahead to the likely scenarios for the sector in three months, six months, a year and three years’ time.
The union body has also called for the ministers to support necessary adaptations to reduce aviation-related emissions, including by direct government support for important capital programmes with long-term environmental benefits.
It has also urged ministers to extend the job retention scheme in some form to support workers during the transition from the current situation where demand remains severely reduced to a time when demand levels have stabilised and to ensure the UK's fundamental aviation infrastructure and route network is protected.
The TUC has also called on the government to take equity stakes of up to 30% in struggling aviation companies, as has already been done in Germany, where the state has taken a 20% stake in Lufthansa in order to save the airline.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The quarantine exemptions announced today will not be enough to save the aviation industry, which has suffered a bigger downturn than any other sector.
“Aviation will play a key role in helping the UK’s recovery — it is crucial to the future of the leisure and tourism industry, and airports are vital in supporting the regional economic development that the government has promised through its ‘levelling up’ agenda.
"The government has committed to building back greener after this crisis, and by supporting the greening of the aviation sector at this pivotal time, ministers could make a significant contribution to cutting the UK’s carbon footprint.
“With huge numbers of aviation workers still furloughed, and demand not expected to reach normal levels for some time, there is a strong danger that companies will start to lay off large numbers of workers, and in some cases close down entirely when the job retention scheme winds down.
“Ministers must take urgent action, including by extending its job retention scheme in some form, taking equity stakes in struggling businesses, and setting up an aviation recovery panel to plan for the sector’s long-term recovery. There is a narrow window in which to save jobs and businesses in the sector, and the government must act now.”
Notes to Editors
Industry figures are estimations
The current aviation taskforce has focused on health guidance and does not have a remit to introduce economic support in the sector
The TUC is calling for:
Support for necessary adaptations to reduce aviation-related emissions. There is an may be investment in research and implementation measures that can be made on a sectoral basis which government can support to help the sector move to a net-zero/lower emission future.
·An extension of the job retention scheme in some form to support aviation transition from the current situation where demand remains severely reduced to a time when demand levels have stabilised.
Given demand is likely to remain reduced for some time, research and investment in areas that could be a good match in terms of diversification for businesses and skills development and job adaptation for staff should be established.
A right to retrain for aviation workers, funded by the national skills fund committed to by government. Training should be delivered through personal lifelong learning accounts.
Sectoral redeployment schemes, even if informal, could be hugely beneficial to laid off staff and to businesses that could save vital funds on recruitment and training.
·To support individual aviation businesses, the government should take equity stakes of up to 30%. This has already been done in Germany, where the government has taken a 20% stake in Lufthansa in order to save the airline.
Government support should be conditional on aviation businesses:
Setting out fair pay plans, including paying all workers (including indirect workers) the real living wage, capping pay ratios between top and bottom at 20:1 and curbing excessive executive pay
Committing to paying tax in the UK as soon as is practically possible and to acquiring the Fair Tax Mark within three years
Committing to promoting decent work in their direct and indirect operations and working with unions to develop proposals on putting this into practice
Working with the industry to develop and implement proposals for reducing aviation emissions.
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.
TUC press office
020 7467 1248
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