Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union, is calling on the government to end its piecemeal approach to policies for the aviation sector and to finally introduce a joined up plan to ensure the industry is able to both survive the Covid-19 pandemic and sustainably thrive in the future.

Quarantine hotels

Unite made its call after it was announced that the government is expected to introduce rules for quarantine hotels, which would require travellers from many parts of the world to have to stay in a designated hotel for a set amount of time when they arrive in the UK.

The policy announcement which is designed to lessen the spread of new variants of Covid-19, is expected to further suppress air travel which has seen a huge decline since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Lack of sector support

The government has failed to provide sector specific support for aviation despite the chancellor Rishi Sunak first promising such measures last spring. In September the government announced that it was establishing an Aviation Recovery Plan which was due to be published in the ‘autumn’ but this has yet to see the light of day.

Fresh blow to industry 

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “The government’s intention to introduce quarantine hotels for some passengers may assist with its public health challenges but it cannot be introduced without recognising this is a further blow to the aviation sector.

 “We have no idea how long the policy will be in place or whether its scope may need to be extended in the future.

 “While such policies are in place the aviation sector will face a sustained delay in recovery.

 “The aviation industry, its workers and the communities who rely on it are crying out for the government to come forward with a joined up approach to protect jobs, airports and routes.

 “The government first promised sector specific support over 10 months ago and it has so far failed to deliver.

 “With the furlough scheme set to end in the spring, unless the government steps in soon thousands of more jobs are set to be needlessly lost.

 “Once the most intense impact of the pandemic is over, the aviation industry, which is critical for the UK’s connectivity and economic success, will quickly begin to recover. But it will only do so if the government provides the support aviation needs in order to survive during this crisis.”

Unite plan for aviation 

Unite is calling for the government to adopt a sectorial plan for aviation which will encompass the economic and fiscal measures needed to support the aviation 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.

Full details 

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.


Notes to editors:

 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.