Aviation industry rallies to protest government policy

Aviation organizations from all sectors of the industry will come together at a protest at Manchester Airport tomorrow (23 June) as part of an urgent call on the government to take action to help the industry to survive the pandemic.

The strictly socially distanced protest, which was organized by Unite, the UK aviation union, in collaboration with Manchester Airports Group, will also include representatives from the pilots’ union BALPA, the North West TUC, the Business Travel Association, Clarity Business Travel and other aviation organizations are yet to be confirmed.

Andrew Western, the leader of the Trafford Council, will also be present at the event which will start at 12:30 pm in the terminal 3 building of the airport.

The Manchester Airport protest coincides with a Parliament lobby organized by the Airlines UK trade association and similar protests are also being held in Belfast and Edinburgh, with virtual protests in Cardiff.

Aviation says it has been hit more than any other sector of the economy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the rest of the economy slowly emerges from lockdown and ensures workers can return to their workplaces, the aviation industry is currently putting even more staff on leave, as a direct result of government policies.

With the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Program (CJRS) set to end at the end of September, there are growing fears that the aviation industry will face a cliff face and unless urgent action is taken, huge job losses are inevitable.

Unite calls on the government to act to introduce three policies that will dramatically improve the outlook for the industry:

  • Transparency – in the government traffic light system so industry can better understand how criteria are applied to data in departmental decision making
  • Logistics – when aviation opens up, funding / resources are needed to avoid operational challenges. For example, how long queues at check-in while passengers show proof of vaccination and test results can be avoided, and how long queues at arrivals and the prospect of mixed passengers from different countries will be processed
  • CJRS – Industry specific extension so aviation can survive an increasingly bleak summer and fall and still exist until 2022 without more layoffs, pay cuts and even business collapses.

Unite Regional Officer Mike Gaskill said: “Aviation workers in Manchester and across the UK are calling for government support and assistance.

“The sector is in an even deeper crisis because of government policy.

“The recent decisions regarding the traffic light system have destroyed any chance of a successful summer season, the time when the industry is making its profits. “

He added: “Unless the government takes immediate action, it is inevitable that there will be further large-scale job losses, road closures and even business collapses.

“Aviation is essential for the long term financial success of the UK economy, but for a viable sector to survive it must receive short and medium term support from the government.”

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