Representatives from the aviation sector will be taking part in a national day of action, including with a demonstration at Manchester Airport, as part of calls for the government to provide further support during the pandemic.
Trade union Unite has organised a socially distanced protest at the Northern hub, beginning at 12.30pm, joined by pilots’ union BALPA and other travel sector organisations. The event is part of a national day of action organised by the travel sector that will see similar demonstrations taking place at Westminster and at airports throughout the UK, including at Belfast, Edinburgh, with a virtual protest at Cardiff Airport.
The Travel Day of Action is calling on the UK Government to bring forward a tailored package of support for the sector, including a furlough extension and adopt an evidence based approach to allowing international travel to return safely.
Tomorrow’s (23rd June) protest comes following analysis of European air travel data by BALPA, which shows that the UK’s aviation sector has been the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, with London Gatwick and Manchester airports having seen the greatest percentage fall in flights across the continent.
Brian Strutton, BALPA Acting General Secretary responded to the release of these latest statistics:
The UK aviation industry is the hardest hit in Europe, caused by the UK Governments ludicrously cautious restrictions on international travel. Hapless Ministers give all the appearance of deliberately attacking aviation and tormenting the public with their mixed messages over summer holidays. BALPA is demanding that the UK Government gets its act together and opens the US routes and European holiday travel destinations that it has blocked with no published evidence at all.
“If the country is going to build back better from the pandemic and build new international links with partners for trade and travel, we are going to need a thriving aviation industry. There is no time to hide behind task forces and reviews. This week pilots will be calling on the Government to act now to save jobs by taking a transparent, evidence-based approach to travel restrictions, extending the furlough scheme and helping airlines and airports weather this storm through direct financial support.”
The government has been widely criticised by Manchester Airports Group and other providers throughout the pandemic for failing to provide sufficient support for the sector. Last week, Manchester Airports Group and Ryanair together launched a legal challenge of the government’s decision-making process in how countries were classified in the traffic-light system.