Political parties need to ‘think aviation’ in May elections, says Back Heathrow

With the May local council elections looming, Back Heathrow, the local voice for over 100,000 residents who support the aviation industry in west London, is urging political parties to put forward council candidates with experience of aviation and its supply chain.

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of Back Heathrow said: “London’s jobs and economy depends on its airports to survive, particularly Heathrow. But over the last two years the government has failed to understand the impact that a lack of business rate rebate and a byzantine Covid testing system has had on the economy.

“The capital can only benefit from having councillors who have worked in the aviation industry and fully understand its importance to London’s economy. We want all parties to ‘think aviation’ when putting forward their candidates for the May elections.”

Back Heathrow believes the elections are a chance for parties to respond to a world changed by the impact of Covid on London boroughs now facing economic hardship. For example, during the crisis Hounslow had over 30,000 residents on furlough and Hayes & Harlington in Hillingdon had a 200% increase in unemployment.

Mr Dhanda added: “The economic hardships faced by so many Londoners are largely due to the downturn in aviation. There are political solutions to this, but the long-awaited rescue plan for aviation never seemed to happen. Perhaps local councils can help change that in May.”


Unions and campaigners welcome London Living Wage announcement for Heathrow

Back Heathrow, trade unions and local communities have welcomed Heathrow Airport’s plans to ensure the London Living Wage (LLW) is paid to all directly employed suppliers. The announcement comes as part of a package of measures in its revamped sustainability strategy which include new targets to cut carbon, improve air quality and reduce noise - as well as the reintroduction of subsidised public transport.

Trevlyn McLeod

Trevlyn McLeod, GMB union London region organiser said: “I have personally represented staff who haven’t received the London Living Wage in the past, so I am delighted for our members who will now get it. But there is still work to be done to get workers at Heathrow who are outside of the direct supply chain on to LLW too. GMB looks forward to working with the airport and other employers to ensure the next phase becomes a reality.”

Parmjit Dhanda, executive director of the Back Heathrow campaign said: “This is an important statement from the airport. Working people in west London are facing the biggest cost-of-living crisis for thirty years, so this will help. Heathrow jobs are crucial to our local communities, so we are pleased to see this announcement, as well as the reintroduction of subsidised public transport. 

“The wider package of measures on carbon, noise and air quality are also an important step forward for communities living close to the airport.”

Peter Kavanagh, Unite London & Eastern regional secretary said: “The extension of the London Living Wage at Heathrow airport is a significant and welcome milestone in Unite’s fight to eliminate poverty pay and exploitative practices by some employers at the airport. It is also vital that Heathrow agrees to an acceptable timetable for the extension of the LLW to all Tier 2 employers who do business on the airport.”

The airport’s direct supply chain of employers will introduce the LLW from April 2022. It is a measure that trade unions and local community group Back Heathrow have championed for years. Apcoca and Mitie are the largest suppliers affected by the decision. Around 1,300 employees will benefit. The London Living Wage is currently £11.05 per hour.

The next phase of the shift to the LLW will involve work with the airport’s indirect suppliers to encourage them to move to the new standard. Progress will be harder to achieve because the airport doesn’t have the ability to mandate LLW in the way it can with direct suppliers.

The airport has simplified its existing sustainability strategy into two pillars of work: targets around zero aviation and those that commit the airport to being a good neighbour and employer. You can read its new objectives here.


Local people need Western Rail link, says Back Heathrow

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

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.



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.



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