Around 6,000 aviation jobs, including many at London Luton Airport, could be at risk as the furlough scheme is expected to end on September 30, according to a Luton MP.
Luton North MP Sarah Owen said that the end of the scheme – which Luton, Bedfordshire has relied on heavily during the pandemic due to the size of the aviation sector – could lead to a “bigger jobs crisis” in the town.
Luton Airport’s CEO warned last month that the airport will “need to consider whether to let people go” if the Government doesn’t offer aviation a deal to protect jobs.
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Data from Airlines UK has also shown that there are 2,341 jobs in Ms Owen’s Luton North constituency, and a further 3,450 in Luton South where Luton Airport is based, which depend on aviation and its supply chain.
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Summer passenger numbers this year were down two-thirds compared to 2019.
The airport had 1.2 million passengers through July and August, down from 3.6 million in 2019. Around a quarter of the airport’s staff remain on the furlough scheme currently.
Whilst restrictions remain in place, and to secure the recovery of the sector, LLA has called for further industry support from Government.
This includes simplifying the approach to travel through easier and cheaper testing. Additional financial support through the quieter winter period will also be essential, such as an extension to the job support scheme for travel businesses.
In the House of Commons, Sarah Owen, addressing Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey, said: “More than 2,000 good jobs in Luton North are in aviation and they are under threat as furlough ends.
“When we look at this job cuts double whammy, it is hard not to conclude that the Conservatives are leaving Luton to fight this crisis on our own.”
“Will the Minister tell the Chancellor to extend the furlough for aviation and to reverse this cut in UC?”
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In response, the Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey said: “The honourable lady is wrong to suggest that our Government have not supported the people of Luton throughout this difficult time.
“The furlough scheme was unique; it was not introduced when many hundreds of thousands of people were made redundant after Labour’s financial crisis. We stepped in, putting more than £400 billion into Government spending overall to support the country during this time.
“I am conscious of the fact that some people will be concerned about the impact on aviation travel, which is why we have invested in various job schemes, including encouraging people to switch sectors, recognising that the skills they have are transferable.”
Sarah Owen added a further comment, saying: “The Tories are leaving people in Luton to fight this crisis on our own. It was an insulting response from the Minister to people’s legitimate concerns about the future.
“We’ve been hit harder than most places by any Covid downturn because of the amount of jobs in our town that rely on our airport and aviation sector.”
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