The government’s announcement today (Thursday June 24) on international travel that a small number of additional countries have been added to the UK’s green travel list, must lead to the government providing sector specific support for the aviation industry, or tens of thousands of workers face losing their jobs this autumn, Unite, the UK’s leading aviation union, has warned.

Unite believes that the current traffic light system is not fit for purpose. Asking an entire industry to hold its breath every three weeks to see where countries will be placed on the traffic light system prevents sensible planning decisions being made for a multi-billion pound sector.

As a consequence, Unite is renewing its call for the government to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for aviation sector workers beyond the end of September when it is currently due to close, until at least spring next year.

Unite has also emphasised that for international travel to be successfully expanded it does not just require the UK government to introduce policies to allow passengers to fly but it is also imperative for destination countries to introduce similar policies.

Unite is calling for the government to introduce three specific policies to ensure that the aviation sector can survive the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Transparency – in the government’s traffic light scheme so that the industry can better understood how the criteria is being applied to the data in ministerial decision making.

  • Logistics – when aviation does open up, funding/resources are needed to avoid operational challenges. For example, how long queues at check in whilst passengers are showing their proof of vaccination and test results can be avoided, and how big queues at arrivals and the prospect of mixing passengers from different countries will be dealt with.

  • CJRS – Sector specific extension so that aviation can survive an increasingly bleak looking summer and autumn and still exist into 2022 without more redundancies, pay cuts and even company collapses.

Unite fears that unless the government announces the extension of the CJRS in the near future, many of the operators in aviation, including airlines, airports and ground operators, will be forced to make large scale redundancies, in order to try to remain in business.

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that due to policies in the UK and in destination counties international air travel is not going to return to anything like normal this year. 

“As a consequence, the government must stop prevaricating and swiftly introduce measures which will ensure that the UK still has a functioning aviation industry in the future.

“Aviation is unique as in order to operate it needs the government in both departure and destination countries to allow travel to take place.

“As a minimum the government must extend the furlough scheme until spring next year to protect aviation jobs.

“If they fail to do so then tens of thousands of workers will be at risk of losing their jobs when the CJRS ends.

“The traffic light system is simply not fit for purpose; it is impossible for a multi-billion pound industry to make plans for the future when the rug can be pulled from under them every three weeks. 

“Aviation workers from all parts of the UK are nervously waiting to learn if the government is prepared to provide short term support to guarantee their long-term future.

“Other European countries have provided far more support to maintain their aviation sector during the pandemic and are set to continue to preserve jobs until international air travel can return to a level of normalcy. The UK government must be prepared to do the same.”


Notes to editors:

Cross sector aviation alliance, including Unite the union, to hold UK day of action to demand Covid-19 support

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

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: 

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