Unions renew calls for government to act over easyJet

© Ramon Jordi http://www.pictaero.com/en/pictures/picture,298867

Unions have renewed their calls for the government to step in and provide financial assistance to the aviation union as easyJet announced 727 pilot redundancies and plans to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports.

BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: “We know that aviation is in the midst of the COVID crisis and we had been expecting easyJet to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline through to recovery.

“But this seems an excessive over-reaction and easyJet won’t find a supply of pilots waiting to come back when the recovery takes place over the next two years. easyJet paid £174m out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, got £600m from the government, has boasted of having £2.4bn in liquidity, and ticket sales are going through the roof so fast they cannot get pilots back off furlough quickly enough – so why the panic? It doesn’t add up. We will be fighting to save every single job.

“This is more evidence that aviation in the UK is caught in a death spiral of despair and individual airlines are flailing around without direction. BALPA repeats its call for government to step in, provide a strategy and back a moratorium on job losses while all stakeholders sort out an holistic way forward for the whole aviation sector.”

Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: “This is yet another massive blow to the aviation industry and our thoughts are with workers who face losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

“There is no need for this announcement at this time, especially since easyJet has taken a multi-million pounds government loan which it ought to be putting to use defending UK jobs.

“This is a company with its priorities all wrong.  It has paid a multi-million dividend to its shareholders, borrowed hundred of millions from the government to buy new aircraft and has fully utilised the jobs retention scheme.  It absolutely should not be allowed to make huge redundancies a few weeks later.

“The latest announcement further demonstrates why it is absolutely essential that the government extends its job retention scheme for the aviation sector, which has been one of the industries worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are now more than three months on since the Chancellor promised support for UK aviation.

“The government’s ongoing failure to provide such support is directly resulting in huge job losses throughout the industry and is threatening the viability of airlines and airports alike.

“The aviation industry is essential to the future prosperity of the UK’s economy and it is essential that the UK government, steps up to the plate and provides specific support in line with other nations.”

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