Aviation jobs critical to local communities in west London

A new report has set out the risks of aviation job losses to local communities around Heathrow airport and west London.

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of community campaign group Back Heathrow, which has over 100,000 supporters, said: “Our campaign is arguing the importance of Heathrow airport as an engine room for the economy. This report provides clear evidence of the link between the health of the airport and the prosperity of local communities.”


Back Heathrow believes the government should look carefully at this report, compiled by Airlines UK, and resolve to do more to protect jobs in aviation by extending the furlough scheme for the sector and by agreeing a safe return to international travel to boost trade and jobs.

The report shows that overall, over 100,000 jobs in London depend on aviation. This includes:

8,565 direct jobs in the Brentford and Isleworth constituency; 7,553 in Feltham and Heston; 6,346 in Hayes and Harlington; 3,797 in Twickenham; 3,732 Southall.

Mr Dhanda added: “These figures are the tip of the iceberg, the wider supply chain is huge. The Prime Minister’s own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is directly reliant on aviation for over 3,000 jobs. He needs to get control of the situation fast.”

The Airlines UK report can be found here. 


Back Heathrow Welcomes Amber List Announcement

Back Heathrow has welcomed the announcement from the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, that from 19th July, fully vaccinated Britons will not be required to quarantine on their return from amber-list countries.

Since the necessary restriction of international travel at the start of the pandemic, Back Heathrow has campaigned for targeted financial support for the aviation and travel sectors to protect jobs and livelihoods. The responsible adjusting of the rules for fully vaccinated travellers is good news for the many thousands of families who depend on Heathrow and airports across the country.

Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said, “Heathrow is crucial to the livelihoods of local people and it’s also the country’s most important port, contributing over £6 billion to the UK economy. Global Britain needs a vibrant Heathrow if it is to create the growth and jobs to get people back to work, locally and nationally. The next step needs to be a safe opening up of important business routes to places like the US.”

The government’s announcement opens up travel to over 100 ‘amber list’ destinations in time for the summer holiday season. This includes most of the European Union, including popular holiday destinations such as France, Spain and the Greek islands.

 


Travel day of action shows strength of feeling over green list

Commenting on yesterday’s (June 23) travel day of action, Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow said:

“The scale of the lobby should be a wake-up call for ministers. The strength of feeling among workers in the travel and aviation sectors yesterday, at events across the country, was palpable. Their jobs are in jeopardy. We hope the government will look at the science when updating its ‘green list’. This is a perfect opportunity to kick start the economy, save jobs and do it safely.”

For a gallery of images from yesterday click here.

 


Images from the travel day of action on June 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The UK needs a safe return to international travel

Back Heathrow supporters are joining others from the travel industry as part of a day of action at Westminster on Wednesday, June 23rd. Similar lobbies have been arranged for the UK’s other capital cities on the same day.

Trade bodies from across the aviation and travel industries are coming together on the day to urge the government to stick to its Global Taskforce Plan and ensure a safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period.

The day of action involves a lobby at the Houses of Parliament, as well as similar events in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow said the day of action demonstrates how dire the situation is for the aviation and travel industry.

“These sectors employ hundreds of thousands of people. Communities around Heathrow are particularly vulnerable. The fall-out from the pandemic has already cost many thousands of residents their livelihoods.

“Back Heathrow believe the government can do more to protect jobs in travel and aviation by extending the furlough scheme for the sector and by agreeing a safe return to international travel. They should stick to the science and use their own Global Task Force plan.”

Organisers of the day of action say the UK is falling behind other countries in restarting aviation and travel, particularly in Europe.

Back Heathrow argues that with the success of the UK vaccine programme, it is vital the government is proactive, and that a safe restarting of international travel is just the kick-start the UK economy needs.

Mr Dhanda added: “Heathrow is the engine room for the UK. We face doing permanent damage to the economy and the competitiveness of our aviation sector if the government delays further and fails to offer the support that jobs in aviation and travel need to survive.”


Government needs a clear plan to open up travel, not a series of last minute changes and contradictory signals, says Back Heathrow

Commenting on the continuing woes of the aviation and travel industry, Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow said: “The green list announcement is particularly bad news for west London Boroughs and the Thames Valley. Local boroughs around the airport all have thousands of residents on furlough already – over 25,000 in Hounslow alone. 

“The government needs a clear plan to open up travel, not a series of last minute changes and contradictory signals. There is no sugar coating for this. There are 1.6 million jobs related to the travel sector, and locally, we're set to be the hardest hit if the government doesn't get a grip of the situation.”

Back Heathrow agrees that the protection of public health is paramount, but says the purpose of the Global Travel Taskforce was to set out how to unlock low-risk travel safely. 

The Back Heathrow campaign says if the government is serious about the sector, urgent action is needed to reopen flights to key trading partners, particularly the significant transatlantic route between Heathrow and the US.


Back Heathrow welcomes the introduction of sustainable aviation fuels to Heathrow jets

Back Heathrow, the campaign representing the views of over 100,000 residents in boroughs around Heathrow airport, has welcomed the news that Heathrow Airport has become the first major UK airport to integrate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) into its fuel distribution.

Parmjit Dhanda, Back Heathrow Executive Director said: “For the first time today sustainable aviation fuel made from renewable waste – like used cooking oil and animal fat will be incorporated into fuel for jet planes at a major British airport. This is a first for the UK and we hope other airports will follow Heathrow’s example and help lead the way to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“This is great news for aviation communities because it shows clear progress on carbon reduction, and in the longer-term will also create new jobs in sustainable aviation fuels as commercial production is expanded. It’s an important day for a sector that has taken a battering during the Covid crisis.”

Read the story here: https://bit.ly/3cbbGvB


Without action on flights, BAME aviation workers face more job insecurity, says Back Heathrow

The government must continue to reopen international travel to safe destinations, or areas around our airports will see a sharp increase in unemployment, says the Back Heathrow campaign, which represents over 100,000 people living close to Heathrow.

It says those from ethnic minority communities stand to be hardest hit by the struggles facing airlines and airports due to Covid 19, and face being left behind as the government focusses on levelling up in the north.

With the government announcing the UK’s green list for travel, whereby UK citizens can fly to only 12 destinations, including Australia, New Zealand and Portugal, Back Heathrow’s Parmjit Dhanda has called for urgent government action to prevent a jobs catastrophe for communities in and around Heathrow and other major airports.

Mr Dhanda said: “Last summer a report by Oxford Economics set out forecasts for the impact of reduced activity at Heathrow caused by the pandemic and stated that 62,000 jobs are vulnerable in west London alone.

“Statistically there is evidence that many airport workers are from minority communities, not just at Heathrow but at Luton, Birmingham and other airports. We believe this is a major contributing factor to new TUC research which states that unemployment amongst BAME communities has increased at three times the rate of others. Over 25,000 people from ethnic minority communities work at Heathrow and live close to the airport.”

Ahead of the summer holiday season, Back Heathrow want the Government to assign ‘green list’ status to more low risk countries, as their vaccination rates increase and infection rates get lower. The government should also invest in more Border Force staff to ensure people can pass through quicker and with appropriate social distancing measures in place.

The damage to the aviation sector and the knock-on effect on diverse communities serving many airports is leading to a jobs crisis amongst BAME communities. Yet they are not a part of the Prime Minister’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

In conclusion Mr Dhanda added: “Our message to the government is that the UK aviation industry needs more support. Without it half a million jobs are at risk – with a large proportion of them from ethnic minority backgrounds. People working in airport communities need full backing from the government if ‘levelling up’ is to work for the whole country.”

In the Southall area alone over 5,000 BAME residents work at Heathrow airport, and Cranford and Heston, next to the airport, is home to over 6,000 BAME Heathrow workers.

TUC Research: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-bme-unemployment-rising-3-times-fast-white-unemployment


Tribute to Iqbal Singh Vaid

I want to pay tribute to Iqbal Singh Vaid today, on behalf of Back Heathrow, but also personally. Sadly, Iqbal passed away on Wednesday 23rd March, at the age of 78 after battling long-term illness.

But battling is something Iqbal Singh was renowned for in west London, where he was a pillar of our local community.

He was a retired BA employee, a General Secretary of the Indian Workers Association (IWA) and received many accolades from Unite the union. Many of us will remember him as a passionate trade unionist and a powerful orator. His oratory was as strong and clear in English as it was in his native Punjabi.

Influential people wanted to hear what he had to say, not just because he was clear in his beliefs on issues like workplace rights, equality, job creation and the expansion of Heathrow, but because they knew he was embedded in the community he loved – he spoke for many people. Iqbal took his passion for grassroots organisation from the union movement to the Indian Workers Association.

Personally, I enjoyed his counsel. He was knowledgeable, articulate and wise. To have all those qualities in such abundance is a rare thing.

He will be missed by many people, particularly his family and the Southall community in which he served with distinction.

Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.

Parmjit Dhanda and all at Back Heathrow


A strong aviation sector is needed if the UK is to have a strong post-COVID recovery

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.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash