We are all concerned about British Airways' (BA) announcement of 12,000 redundancies as well as the 9,000 job cuts at Rolls-Royce plc and the wider future of the aviation industry.
I agree this behaviour from BA bosses is unacceptable and, if left unchallenged, could pave the way for even further ruthless and premature decisions from the aviation industry which will have huge repercussions for workers across this sector and beyond.
There are new threats to jobs in air traffic control, at NATS Prestwick. As we see TUI deciding to cancel all flights until at least 11th June and calling off all holidays until 01st July at the earliest, and Jet2.com & Jet2holidays making similar decisions, it is not just holidays which are in jeopardy but potentially tens of thousands of jobs across the entire aviation sector and supply chain.
I have urged UK government intervention and on 01st May, the day after the BA job cuts announcement, I wrote directly to the Chief Executive of BA, Alex Cruz and also the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma MP, urging cooler heads and UK Government support. In addition, I have raised my concerns about new threats to jobs in air traffic control at NATS in Prestwick.
Along with my SNP colleagues and others, I have met with Unite The Union to discuss the wider concerns regarding the aviation, aerospace and tourism sector and the Unite blueprint for the aviation industry to provide whatever support we can to the workers across this industry.
My calls for the UK Government to establish a Travel Guarantee Fund is essential to the future of this entire sector. Consumer confidence in the travel industry has collapsed entirely. The woes outlined above is both a cause and effect of the collapse of consumer confidence as too many consumers have struggled to have cash refunded for cancelled holidays, despite this consumer right being enshrined in law,. If such refunds were to be – for the moment – guaranteed by the UK Government, consumer confidence would return, encouraging consumers to book for future travel with a degree of confidence which is all too lacking at the moment. This in turn would generate revenue for the industry – of which there is very little at the moment – and the wider supply chain.
What is needed at this point of unprecedented crisis faced by the entire aviation sector, with tens of thousands of jobs at stake, is bold, decisive action and leadership from the UK Government. This is essential as the aviation, wider aerospace and tourism sectors supports 1.6 million jobs and contributes £92 billion in Gross Domestic Profit.
Undoubtedly, bold and decisive action is needed and it is needed now. It is for such action that I and my Scottish National Party (SNP) colleagues will press.