Local people want to see an end to delays to the Western Rail link to Heathrow say Back Heathrow, the community campaign that supports job creation for residents close to the airport.
Planning permission for the project – that links Wales and South-West England to Heathrow airport has been delayed by a year, after many years of delays. The scheme was not even mentioned in the government’s own recent connectivity review of rail.
Back Heathrow Executive Director, Parmjit Dhanda said: “This project boosts rail connectivity, cuts carbon and helps create jobs from Wales to west London. This could be one of the biggest ‘levelling up’ projects for working communities in the south of our country. The government needs to crack on and do it.”
Back Heathrow fully supports the Thames Valley and other Chambers of Commerce; many regional economic and transport forums; the Wales Assembly, and local councils that all say they are bitterly disappointed by delays to this much-needed project.
Western Rail to Heathrow link says the project will:
- bring improvements in connectivity to 14m people across regions
- support regional economies in the South West, south Wales, South Central and Midlands
- will help deliver UK climate change targets and mitigate the impact of Heathrow
- be a vital stimulus to the recovery of the UK aviation industry
- help the recovery of international trade and inbound tourism.
See the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce story here: https://bit.ly/3y7QS2c
Back Heathrow welcomes the government’s decision not to oppose a new runway at Heathrow airport – but warns that commitments on decarbonisation at the COP26 climate change conference in November are crucial if aviation is to meet its own emission targets.
Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said: “This decision not to review its airports policy is welcome news for communities in West London who want the benefits of the thousands of new jobs that expansion could create.
“They want expansion, but also want it done sustainably. There are a whole raft of new technologies for tackling carbon emissions in the aviation sector. Hydrogen and other sustainable fuels, electric, and battery powered flight must be taken to the next level through a firm commitment from government. It must back these solutions.”
Back Heathrow’s 100,000 supporters live close to Heathrow Airport and believe in the benefits of international travel.
Mr Dhanda added: “We believe the chance to visit family members abroad or take a holiday is a good thing. We also believe it is important to grow international trade, which will depend on Heathrow’s capacity in the years to come. All of this must come coincide with net zero carbon targets.”
The government’s existing approach is aligned with its long-term climate commitments, including net-zero by 2050 en-route to reducing emissions by 78% by 2035, against a 1990 baseline.
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 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.
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.
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, 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
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.
Uxbridge residents who emailed their MP, Boris Johnson, about the critical situation of job losses at Heathrow have been left bemused and disappointed by his response.
Calling for financial support for the airport over its cripplingly high business rates bill of £116m, the highest in the UK, Uxbridge resident Ranjit Sihota said: “As someone with a family member who was made redundant from the airport, the response by the Prime Minister shows that he just doesn’t understand airport communities and what his own constituents are going through right now.”
In his emailed reply (see below) Mr Johnson refers to measures to help limit the impact of reduced airport activity due to Covid 19, however Mr Sihota added: “The amounts available are pitiful and will not prevent further job losses.”
According to a recent report by Oxford Economics, the collapse in air travel threatens over 60,000 local jobs.
In his reply the PM says: “Grants of up to £8m will be available to commercial airports in England and will be used to help with business rates in 2020-21. The money, which will also help ground handlers, will shore up jobs and reinforce local economies.”
However, Back Heathrow executive director, Parmjit Dhanda said although any kind of government support during the pandemic was welcome these measures ultimately failed the aviation industry – and Heathrow in particular.
“The business rates waiver scheme is capped for airports at £8m, but Heathrow has the largest single rates bill in Britain at £116m. These kinds of caps have not applied in other industries, and so are hitting communities like the PM’s constituency hardest.”
Mr Dhanda added: “ The massive pressure on airport jobs, with eight out of every ten flights cancelled, has left the community around Heathrow reeling. The budget has failed to live up to local and national expectations on aviation jobs.”
Uxbridge resident Oliwia Molinska, with family work connections to Heathrow, said: “The Prime Minister needs to realise that thousands of jobs in west London depend on Heathrow, including jobs in Uxbridge. We need a fair deal for local people. His response suggests he really doesn’t know what’s happening in his own patch.”
Prime Minister’s response
Thank you very much for contacting me about support for Heathrow Airport during the Covid-19 pandemic. I appreciate that this remains a very worrying time for Heathrow Airport staff and their families – many of whom live locally in Hillingdon.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in greater uncertainty over future demand (at least in the short/medium term) in the aviation sector and that this continues to have a knock-on effect on the operational requirements of airlines and airports.
I want to be clear that the Government recognises the importance of the aviation sector to the UK economy, and the effect that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the industry. Going forward, the Government is keen to work with the aviation sector in finding a stable and sustainable recovery.
As you will know, we have already made available an unprecedented package of economic support for the sector to support them during the current crisis. This includes the Job Retention Scheme which has now been extended until April 2021, business rates relief and tax deferrals.
While the decision to close our travel corridors will help prevent the spread of new Covid variants in the UK, the Government recognise the impact this will have on the aviation sector. In order to help limit this impact, the Aviation Minister has recently announced the opening of the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme which will provide £100m to support airports in England, protecting jobs and giving airports the best chance of rebounding after coronavirus. Grants of up to £8m will be available to commercial airports in England and will be used to help with business rates in 2020-21.
The money, which will also help ground handlers, will shore up jobs and reinforce local economies. The Department of Transport has also established a Restart, Recovery and Engagement unit which is continuing to work alongside the aviation industry, including Heathrow Airport, on the immediate issues around restart as well as the sector’s longer-term growth and recovery.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Boris Johnson MP