With the UK opening up every domestic industry and removing all mandatory restrictions, international travel is the only sector remaining in lockdown. Financial support – in particular a sector specific extension to furlough – is needed now, or UK aviation will nosedive into another bleak winter.
That’s the message to Rishi Sunak, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA). It has written to Mr Sunak to highlight how aviation was the first sector in to the crisis and has now been confirmed as the last out.
BALPA’s letter states that aviation has faced ‘18 months of heavy losses’ and while domestically we are seeing an end to restrictions, international travel is still crippled by regulations and a lack of public confidence. The letter highlights ‘the importance of furlough to workers in aviation’ and asks, ‘in the strongest possible terms, for an extension to the furlough scheme for this sector’ to protect against the loss of the highly skilled specialist workforce.
BALPA also highlights the importance of UK aviation in the rebuilding of global connectivity and warns we will lose our place as world leaders in aviation if the sector is not supported now.
Back in March 2020, the Chancellor promised he’d do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect sectors facing ‘particularly acute challenges’. With international travel still bound up in heavy restrictions and complicated regulations, it is clear the sector needs that financial help now, so we have written to Mr Sunak to ask him to make good on his promise.
We’ve called for a sector-specific extension to furlough in recognition of the particular challenges that aviation has faced though the crisis and to protect against the loss of the specialist skills and training that could arise if the Government does nothing.
Failing to support these highly skilled employees means we risk losing wholesale the expertise and experience that drive the whole sector and that will be vital in putting the UK at the centre of global connectivity and in rebuilding the post-Covid UK economy.