Critical aviation jobs at risk due to pandemic, industry study warns

A new report highlights how critical aviation jobs are to every community and constituency in the country but how they remain at risk due to the pandemic.

Commissioned by trade body Airlines UK alongside Heathrow, Manchester Airports Group and Tui, the study shows that the industry supported more than 536,000 direct jobs across every region of the UK prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

The numbers exclude those in jobs that would not exist without aviation such as airport retail, hotels or tourism, so the overall jobs impact will be even higher.

Pre-pandemic, more a quarter of all constituencies had more than 1,000 people employed in aviation jobs.

Many communities are heavily reliant on aviation, with 5,000 or more residents employed in the sector within airlines, airports or aerospace manufacturers and their suppliers.

A further 60% of constituencies in Britain have 500 or more residents working in aviation, demonstrating the wide reach and importance of the sector as a generator of jobs across the whole country.

Average salaries in airlines, airports and aerospace in all cases exceed the regional average, and between 22%-60% are above.

Many constituencies are heavily reliant on aviation for local employment, including:

  • Crawley – over 10,000 aviation jobs
  • Brentford and Isleworth – 8,500 jobs
  • Feltham and Heston 7,500 jobs
  • Derby South – 7,000 jobs
  • Wythenshawe and Sale East – 4,400 jobs
  • Filton and Bradley Stoke – 3,150 jobs
  • The prime minister’s own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is reliant on aviation for over 3,350 jobs

Airlines UK, chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “This report clearly sets out the importance of the UK aviation sector in supporting livelihoods in local communities throughout the entire country. Almost every constituency in the UK is impacted, and many are truly dependant on the well-paid jobs aviation generates.

“However, today the pandemic continues to put these roles at risk, with a meaningful restart to air travel still yet to materialise.

“First and foremost, safeguarding these livelihoods means getting the sector moving again in a proper way, reopening international travel as our rivals across Europe are doing rather than the piecemeal approach we have currently.

“But is will also require additional, dedicated economic support including furlough extension that recognises aviation’s ongoing crisis, and our longer road to recovery than almost all other sectors.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith said: “With Gatwick within our boundaries it’s not surprising that Crawley is home to more aviation jobs than any other constituency, but the importance of the sector is UK-wide as an internationally connected trading nation.

“That’s why we need to allow operational recovery from Covid-19 restrictions and ongoing support, such as furlough extension, to save as many jobs as possible at this unprecedented time.”

Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary for transport, added: “Aviation workers are skilled, professional and dedicated people who need extended furlough support now.

“As long as the government requires Covid restrictions to travel, then they must also provide support to protect jobs, retain skills and ensure there is a meaningful, sustainable, resilient aviation sector in place in the UK.

“Aviation keeps us connected, transporting freight like medicines, as well as people. As this report shows, and as Unite has been saying since the beginning of the pandemic, airports and aviation support thousands of jobs across many sectors in communities, as well as vital work in the aerospace sector. Without support all are at high risk.”

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