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‘Final call’ for support of aviation industry

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

The UK has lost more than twice as many jobs in aviation and related industries during the coronavirus pandemic than France or Germany, according to new figures.

Analysis commissioned by trade union Unite found that 61,973 UK jobs have been lost across aviation and aerospace since February 2020, as firms slashed their workforces in response to the virus crisis.

This includes 12,000 at British Airways, 3,150 at Virgin Atlantic, 3,000 at Rolls-Royce and 2,200 at Airbus.

Germany and France have lost 28,964 and 20,409 jobs respectively, according to the report by research firm Acuity Analysis.

The study also stated that the French government has provided 26,000 euro (£22,300) of support for each aviation and aerospace job, with the German state supplying 23,000 euro (£19,700).

Researchers calculated the equivalent UK figure to be just 12,000 euro (£10,300).

The report was published on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of Chancellor Rishi Sunak stating that “some sectors are facing particularly acute challenges” from the pandemic as he promised to “discuss a potential support package for specifically airlines and airports”.

The aviation industry believes that help never arrived.

Unite assistant general secretary for transport, Diana Holland, said: “It has been heart-breaking to see so many UK jobs go in aviation when we know that demand will come back.

“A staggering number of workers in the sector are now unemployed but when we look across the Channel, we see that a different approach from governments actually saves these jobs.

“All we are asking is that the Government keeps to its promise. It has been a year since the Chancellor promised a support package for UK aviation.

“This may now be the final call for that support. Without it, this industry will not recover at the speed nor on the scale of our competitors.”

Analysis by the Airport Operators Association (AOA) found that just 14.2 million passengers travelled through UK airports between July and September last year, which was the lowest total since 1975.

Across the year as a whole, passenger numbers were down 75% compared with 2019.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee claimed Mr Sunak “has been proven right about the challenges but has failed to deliver sufficient support”.

She said: “The Chancellor’s failure to deliver on his promise has resulted in UK airports facing huge losses and trailing behind international competitors, who did receive significant support from their governments.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has repeatedly defended the UK Government’s backing of the aviation sector.

He said last month that taxpayer-funded support during the pandemic had reached £7.2 billion.

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