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.