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. 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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

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Uxbridge constituents bemused by Prime Minister's email on aviation crisis

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.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Johnson MP

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Chancellor must act in Budget to save aviation jobs

Commenting ahead of the Budget statement, Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said the Chancellor must urgently address the lack of support for the UK’s aviation industry in order to prevent more job losses and further damage to supply chain infrastructure.

Back Heathrow – the campaign fighting to protect jobs and opportunities at Heathrow airport – says residents of west London know all too well how much their local communities rely on Heathrow and its supply chain for jobs and prosperity.

Mr Dhanda said: “Heathrow can spearhead an economic recovery, but it needs the government's help to make it happen. Things that government can do to help include extending the job retention scheme to protect aviation jobs.

“The business rate waiver for airports should also be extended to 100%. Currently Heathrow receives 7% relief on a bill of £120m – this fixed cost is crippling at a time when passenger and freight volume has collapsed.

“Finally, the restoration of VAT-free shopping for tourists would provide a welcome boost to revenues for all airports around the UK.”

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Unions tell Prime Minister – act now on business rates to save Heathrow jobs

Trade unions have teamed up with the campaign group Back Heathrow to urge the Prime Minister to help communities impacted by the crisis in aviation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic.

In a joint letter the trade unions GMB, USDAW, Community and Back Heathrow have asked the government for a business rate waiver for Heathrow airport – the country’s biggest payer of business rates – and its biggest single site employer.

Parmjit Dhanda, Executive Director of Back Heathrow said: “Airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland have received a 100% business rate waiver, as have other sectors of our economy. Airport communities in England are suffering badly due to lockdowns and reduction in flights.

“Despite losing over 80% of its flights, Heathrow’s business rates bill is still a massive £120m. The airport has only been given a 7% waiver. This is not sustainable and makes a bad situation worse for those depending on Heathrow and its supply chain for work. Airport communities in England need the same level of support as those in other parts of the UK. That’s why Back Heathrow and the trade unions have written to the Prime Minister.”

Under recent government measures, supermarkets were given 100% waivers to their business rates bills. The big supermarkets have handed back their waivers – so far worth £1.4bn. The trade unions and Back Heathrow say this should be used to help Heathrow survive.

In respect of the £1.4bn, the letter signed by leaders of three of the UK’s largest trade unions states: “Less than one-tenth of this waiver money would help Heathrow survive the present crisis, save countless local businesses, and thousands of jobs. We urge you to use this money as a lifeline for everyone who depends on Heathrow for their livelihoods and protect the future of our airport.” Download the letter here.

Unions have also urged the government to include a caveat that the funds will only be spent after a dialogue with unions to ensure jobs are protected at the airport and the wider aviation supply chain.

Back Heathrow speaks for 100,000 residents and businesses that depend on the airport for their livelihoods.

A recent report by Oxford Economics suggests that up to 62,000 local jobs could be at risk due to reduced activity at Heathrow airport. The Oxford Economics report is here.

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