The Back Heathrow campaign has a long-standing interest in a successful aviation industry – the clue is in our name.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that we are very concerned by forecasts from the New Economics Foundation that up to 124,000 jobs are at risk across aviation and the wider supply chain it supports.
Employers, trade unions and the government all have a part to play in ensuring we tackle the Covid 19 pandemic whilst also keeping the aviation industry going strong. It was right for the government to take steps to minimise unnecessary travel but wrong that, so far, it has failed to properly understand the crisis in towns adjacent to airports and offer the support necessary to protect jobs that will be key to the country’s recovery.
One of the reasons for this lack of focus on aviation is that the industry and trade unions have been largely ignored when they have argued their case.
Back Heathrow therefore supports calls from the aviation industry and the TUC for the establishment of a tripartite body of government, trade unions and industry to replace the rejigged but smaller Environmental Social and Governance Group to guide aviation into the recovery and beyond.
Now, more than ever we need a plan for how the aviation industry can safely return to normal including some targeted support which recognises the seasonal and interconnected nature of the aviation sector.
Back Heathrow believes that if the government really wants to safeguard as many jobs as possible in the sector then it needs to provide support to retain capacity and capability to rebuild and recover. A recent report from the industry and trade unions calling for ‘full business rates relief – including the full furlough scheme remaining in place whilst restrictions are in in force’ and ‘a commitment to invest in technology to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry’ is the minimum required and should be supported.
Although, the March Budget statement did extend the job retention scheme, there was no mention of aviation. It was a missed opportunity.
A strong aviation sector is needed if the UK is to have a strong post-COVID recovery, both in terms of international trade and vital employment opportunities in all regions of the UK. It is now down to the government to listen to the aviation industry and its strong trade union base, to give the economy the much needed boost it needs.