/Airport ground handler to axe thousands of UK jobs

Airport ground handler to axe thousands of UK jobs

Published on Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Swissport is planning to shed half its workforce, which will lead to 4,556 job losses in the UK and Ireland.

Staff were informed of the cuts this morning.

Where will the jobs be lost?

Union Unite estimates there will be 800 jobs lost in Scotland alone, but Swissport also offers baggage and ticketing services at London and many regional airport right across the UK.

Why is it gettig rid of so many staff?

In a memo from Swissport chief executive for western Europe, Jason Holt, they were told: “The unfortunate fact is that there simply aren’t enough aircraft flying for our business to continue running as it did before the COVID-19 outbreak, and there won’t be again for some time to come.

“We must adapt to this new reality.”

He pointed to industry forecasts suggesting traffic may not recover to 2019 levels until as late as 2024.

Annual revenues are expected to be almost 50% lower than last year, he said.

“Hence, we must adapt by reducing the size of Swissport’s workforce if we’re going to survive as a company,” he added.

Swissport employs around 8,500 people in the UK and Ireland.

The group employed more than 60,000 people globally prior to the crisis.

What do the unions say?

Unite’s national officer, Oliver Richardson, called on the government to throw the aviation industry a lifeline to rescue jobs.

He asked for an extension of the 80% furlough scheme, which is due to start tapering off at the end of July.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite regional industrial officer in Scotland, said: “The announcement by Swissport is absolutely devastating news with more than 800 jobs being potentially lost at all three major Scottish airports.

“We are now witnessing the domino effect cascading throughout the civil aviation industry from cabin crew to airport workers through to baggage handlers and security staff.

“The industry is so integrated that if one domino falls – they all do. It’s an imperative that the Scottish and UK Governments bring forward a tailored supportive package for the industry because if we don’t then thousands of jobs will be lost and when we come out of lockdown there will be no workers in any major Scottish airports left to support the industry getting back off the ground.”


A threat to regional airports

Unite says the redundancies are a threat to airports in the southwest of England, including Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter and Newquay.

The union, which represents workers at Bristol and Jersey airport said: “This latest announcement raises fresh concerns about the future of the region’s airports. The sector has been hit hard as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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