Commenting on the announcement that Heathrow airport has announced that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing decline in air travel existing employment levels are not sustainable, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said:

“Regrettably Unite, as the principal union at Heathrow, accepts that due to the drop in airport usage there will be a reduction in frontline roles.

“Unite has rejected strongly the prospect of any enforced redundancy programme and has instead negotiated a generous voluntary severance scheme.

“The union recognises that there are workers currently employed at the airport who are prepared to leave in order to pursue fresh opportunities elsewhere.

“Unite will assist our members throughout this process and will ensure that no worker is pressurised or coerced to apply for severance.

“We have been clear with the company that Unite will not allow any needless job losses or accept any attacks on our members’ pay, terms and conditions.

“Although Unite realises that current passenger levels are at unprecedented low number, we also know the drop in passenger volume is temporary, they will return to previous levels at some point in the future.

“Under no circumstances will Unite let Heathrow Airport use the current Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to cut pay for profit.”

Latest jobs blow

Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said: “The jobs announcement at Heathrow is simply the latest blow to the aviation sector and tens of thousands more jobs are at risk unless the government gets a grip of the challenges the industry faces.

“The introduction of the quarantine measures has further delayed the sector’s ability to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The government must urgently look at introducing measures such as air bridges and effective track and trace procedures which will help to restore confidence in flying.

“However, such confidence-boosting measures are not sufficient on their own.  The government must swiftly bring forward the bespoke financial support package for aviation which was first promised by the chancellor three months ago.

“The ongoing failure to provide this desperately needed financial support and ensure the UK has a healthy and sustainable aviation in the future sector, is not only causing job losses but could means routes, airlines and some smaller airports disappear altogether.

“This would be a disaster for the long-term health of the UK economy as aviation is essential to our ability to trade.”

Blueprint for success

Unite has produced a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector including airlines and airports to protect the jobs and conditions of workers. Such loans would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring stringent environmental standards to be adopted to radically reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.


Notes to editors:

New quarantine rules places ‘moral duty’ on government to support aviation

Heathrow’s financial welfare critical to national and regional economy as thousands of aviation jobs hang by a thread

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.