Unite welcomes Labour support for aviation sector support package to tackle the COVID-19 challenge

Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union, has welcomed Labour’s call for the government to introduce a sector specific support package for aviation.

Sector support package

Labour made its call today (Thursday) for the government to urgently come forward with a sector support package while raising serious concerns about the government’s hotel quarantine policy.

The government’s hotel quarantine policy is expected to further suppress passenger air travel. Even before the policy was announced, passenger numbers were already just 4 to 5 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Welcomed by aviation workers

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “Labour’s call for the government to introduce a support package for the aviation sector will be warmly welcomed by aviation workers throughout the UK.

“Aviation can and will swiftly begin to recover once the most intense impact of the pandemic lessens, but thousands of workers who worked in the sector have already lost their jobs and thousands more fear being made redundant before things begin to improve.

“The first priority for the government is to immediately announce that it will prolong the furlough scheme. Unless it is extended, thousands of jobs will be needlessly lost because aviation will not be in a position to recover in the current timeframe.

“Support for aviation cannot be piecemeal. Recovery in the sector, which is critical to the UK’s economic success, will only be secured if the government provides a comprehensive sector specific support package.”

Unite proposals

Unite is calling for the government to adopt a sectoral plan for aviation, which will encompass the economic and fiscal measures needed to support the sector, including:

  • The extension of, and modifications to, the coronavirus job retention scheme beyond April to protect employment in the aviation sector
  • Public service obligation routes to ensure regional connectivity
  • Business rate relief for airports (as in Scotland and Northern Ireland)
  • Extending the period of repayment of loans to aviation companies beyond the current two year maximum
  • All financial support and loans should be provided on the condition that recipients have a clear programme of transition to more efficient and greener travel operations.

The full list of measures can be found on Unite’s urgent autumn/winter update to its ‘Flying into the Future’ blueprint, which was first published in May in response to the coronavirus crisis.