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Aviation in Lockdown: A reflection on where we are now

by Brian Strutton BALPA General Secretary

On year ago the U.K. entered lockdown. Who knew then that we would still be in lockdown today, that so many would have lost their lives and that the world would have changed so much.

Today many of us are reflecting on the past year and remembering those who have suffered in this pandemic. We are examining how our lives have changed and looking to what the future may hold.

Aviation was amongst the first sectors to feel the full effects of anti-coronavirus measures with flights grounded around the world. While no one could have predicted just how things would turn out, BALPA was early to recognise how serious and precarious the situation was.

We rolled out a comprehensive package of support for members with everything from legal advice to industrial support, a dedicated Redundancy Assistance Group, careers advice, specialist webinars and support for pilot wellbeing, all made available.

BALPA reps and staff have been here to support you by fighting for your jobs, your safety and your health.

And from the very beginning BALPA publicly highlighted the unique situation our industry faced, fighting for aviation, for pilots jobs and being your voice in the corridors of power.

As early as 10th March 2020, BALPA appealed to the Government to act urgently to support the industry through coronavirus. And we have repeated those calls time and again in the year gone by. We continue today to lobby Government, brief ministers and provide expert evidence to government committees

Attention now is on the 12th of April and the vital report of the Global Travel Task Force. We have been in briefings with members of that body and are submitting evidence to it. On the 14th of April the Transport Select Committee will be hearing evidence from BALPA.

Your company councils and our expert negotiators have been in regular meetings with airlines to find a way through this crisis, to fight for your jobs and to keep you informed of all the options.

Our flight safety team has also ensured that though this all, pilot wellbeing and flight safety are not overlooked by companies focusing on surviving COVID-19.

In the last year BALPA’s pilot community has no doubt endured great hardship. But I am proud to have seen members standing together, supporting each other and looking at how we can mitigate the crisis and enable aviation to emerge strongly the other side.

There is still a shadow of uncertainty over the future but at BALPA we continue to urge the government to make some solid plans for the industry and shore up our future in its announcements on the12th of April.

The last year has changed aviation dramatically and I am sure that in a year’s time the industry will again look different. But through it all BALPA stands firm, stands for pilots and stands for you.