Warns that thousands of Heathrow workers could end up 'on the scrapheap'
Ruth Cadbury near Heathrow Airport
Thousands of Heathrow workers will be “on the scrapheap” if the travel sector doesn’t receive more support, a shadow minister has said.
Ruth Cadbury, the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, fears for 22,000 Hounslow residents who face the end of the furlough scheme in September.
Ms Cadbury, the shadow minister for planning, says many jobs from Heathrow “may never come back” and is pushing the government for a package of support for the “almost uniquely affected” aviation industry.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, she said, “The furlough scheme for travel and aviation has to be extended. We’ve already got tens of thousands who are already unemployed in Hounslow.
“It’s now got one of highest unemployment levels in the country, having gone from one of the highest employment levels.
“Come the end of furlough there will be another swathe of people who’ll be on the scrapheap jobwise. That won’t do them good, or their families.”
She added that small businesses in the area “very much depend” on Heathrow Airport, and warned that they “won’t survive” unless the government takes action.
Heathrow Airport employed approximately 75,000 workers before the pandemic.
The airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News on Wednesday that 50,000 airport passes have been handed back by staff who no longer work at the airport.
“I don’t think aviation is going to get back to the level it was for a long time, if ever,” Ms Cadbury told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“We are in the hands of the virus, in terms of international travel we are in the hands of how virus infection rates move around the world, we have little control over that.
“The government needs to recognise that the aviation sector is almost uniquely affected and provide sector-specific support and work together with the community, as well as aviation employers on a recognised strategy.
“That doesn’t mean going back to normal flight-wise, for many those jobs may never come back, even if one day they return to what they were.”
To date there has been one formal meeting with the aviation minister, Robert Courts MP, to address the problem, Ms Cadbury claimed.
The unpredictability of the virus and the long-term planning required in the aviation industry means there is “no way” Heathrow will be back to normal by September, she added.
The shadow minister said the business community and local authorities had begun working out how to reskill workers or direct those with transferable skills to other sectors.Josh Mellor - Local Democracy Reporter
July 9, 2021