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Act now to prevent UK aviation being wiped out by pandemic, says pilot union

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) says the Government must act immediately to support the UK airline industry, which is creaking under the pressure of the effects of coronavirus.

Summer booking are significantly down, and as a result, airlines are scaling back operations and asking employees to take unpaid leave, freezing and pay and considering redundancies.

The pilots’ union said that government support is desperately and urgently needed to ensure that the UK still has a world-leading aviation industry when this crisis is over.

BALPA had previously called on the Government to temporarily remove APD (for six months) to ease the burden on airlines, but the budget made it clear that this call has not been heeded. Instead the Government has promised a review in the spring – which BALPA believes could be too late.

BALPA has set up a petition to ask the Government to consider urgently, measures to help the industry through this difficult time, including by introducing an immediate waiver from APD for the next six months and already thousands of people have shown their support.

BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:

“There is a danger that this pandemic will leave UK aviation in pieces. Airlines need the Government to step in now.

“Removing APD is just one step that could help airlines make it through their financial woes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The reality is, with such a loss in forward bookings for the summer – the time when airlines make all their profit – the airlines have had to look at ways to save money to keep the companies afloat.

“While these measures may help the airlines save some money in the short term, the long term effects of losing such a significant part of their workforce means that when the situation has passed, they may not be able to scale back up quickly enough. Pilots require frequent training and recency to be able to fly, it’s not as simple as just re-employing people or raising hours back up.

“This is a tough time for many industries, but aviation is at the forefront, taking the brunt and such a crucial sector to the UK economy and connectivity, we think special measures must be taken to keep the industry going.”