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‘Devastating news’ reaction as airport ground handler Swissport, which serves Gatwick, cuts over 4,500 jobs

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Over 4,500 jobs are to be lost at airport ground handling firm Swissport.

Staff were told that 4,556 jobs are to be cut, more than half of its 8,500 UK workforce.

The company which supplies and manages baggage handlers and check-in workers at airports across the UK including Gatwick told staff via their chief executive that they had never seen anything like COVID-19 before and whilst they had survived problems in the past, this time it was different.

Unions Unite and GMB have instantly called on government to announce bespoke financial package to save the beleaguered aviation industry.

Unite and the GMB the two union’s representing Swissport workers, described the company’s decision to cut at least 4,556 jobs as ‘devastating news’.

Swissport is the country’s largest ground handler; handling flights coming into nearly every regional airport across the UK. It provides ground handling services to many major airlines, including ticketing and baggage handling. 

In light of the announcement, the unions have renewed calls for a bespoke financial package from the UK government to support the aviation industry and save thousands of jobs as the economy continues to reopen.  

Oliver Richardson, Unite national officer, said: 

We can’t wait any longer, the UK Government needs to urgently intervene with a bespoke financial package and an extension of the 80 per cent furlough scheme for the aviation industry. 

“Speed is of the essence if the government is to save thousands of aviation jobs and livelihoods. It’s not too late.”

Nadine Houghton GMB National Officer said:

“This is devastating news. At least 4,000 workers – and possibly many more – will lose jobs which are essential to regional economies. 

“With Swissport now considering job cuts on this scale we have deep concerns about the viability of many of our regional airports and the benefits for regional connectivity that they bring.”

Business

Crawley MP Henry Smith launches aviation recovery plan

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Crawley MP and Future of Aviation Group Chair Henry Smith has launched the Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan to support the sector through the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henry said;

“I’ve established and Chair the Future of Aviation Group, a cross-party coalition of MPs supporting the sector and urging the Government to take further action to assist this world-class industry.

“While Government deserves credit for stepping in and furloughing around 44,000 airline employees, it’s clear that the aviation sector needs further support for its employees.

“With Gatwick Airport in our borough boundary I’ve been clear that aviation’s recovery is not only about flights and trade, but what this vital sector means to hard-working families and whose employees have, in many cases, given significant periods of their lives to their careers.

“For their security we’re calling for a sector-specific extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“I’m asking the Transport Secretary and his Cabinet colleagues to support the Future of Aviation Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan, which has protecting jobs and supporting businesses at its heart.”

The points included in the plan are;

    1: Introduce COVID-19 testing

    2: Introduce regional travel corridors

    3: An employment support package to March 2021

    4: Support the green recovery

    5: Take action on business rates

    6: Temporary suspension of Air Passenger Duty

    7: Support for UK travel inbound tourism

    8: Absorption of CAA/NATS charges for 2020-21

    9: Airspace modernisation

    10: Bring forward public procurement and accelerate public investment

Henry continued;

“It’s estimated that it could take a number of years to get international travel figures up to 2019 levels. We’ve heard the warnings, and it is time for action.

“The scale of the challenges encountered by the aviation, travel and tourism sectors would have been unimaginable only six months ago.

“Through the adoption of these and other policy recommendations being made by the Future of Aviation Group, the Government can reduce the scale of disruption of COVID-19 on this important industry for Crawley and UK-wide.”

The Future of Aviation Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan can be read here

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