24Hr emergency line +44 (0)20 8476 4099
Join Balpa

Pilots declare ‘Mayday’ for UK travel and call on politicians across the UK to ‘MAKE OR BREAK’ summer

Pilots are urging politicians across the UK to pressure the Government to save the summer and secure the future for our national aviation and travel industry. As part of a Travel Day of Action on Wednesday, pilots are taking their message directly to MPs in Westminster, MSPs in Holyrood and MLAs in Stormont and taking part in activity at Bristol, Belfast, Manchester, Luton and Heathrow airports.

The UK aviation industry is the hardest hit in Europe by restrictions on international travel and British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is joining with the rest of the UK travel industry to call on the Government to urgently introduce a robust, science-based approach to opening-up safe travel, extend the furlough scheme and provide direct financial support to save jobs.

Brian Strutton, BALPA Acting General Secretary said:

“The Government has to decide if this summer it will make or break the UK travel industry. Pilots are meeting politicians across the UK today to urge them to put pressure on the Government to act now and save not only the summer but the future of UK aviation and travel.
“With a robust and open approach to the data we should be able to use the science to open-up safe travel routes with the US and many European destinations, just as other European countries have done. This would give the travel industry and passengers a chance to make something the best of the summer and start to stem the decline. Extending the furlough scheme and direct support to airlines and airports would save jobs and companies as we head into the winter, so that we have a leisure and business travel industry ready to bounce back quickly post-pandemic.”

Pilots are calling for the UK Government to:

  • Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a transparent traffic-light system, by expanding the Green list in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants.
  • Bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including extension of furlough support, recognising that the travel sector’s ability to trade and generate income is much slower than first anticipated and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.

Background information on the impact on UK air travel: 

A BALPA analysis of data from European air traffic agency ‘Eurocontrol’ showed that the number of flights into and out of the UK has collapsed by three-quarters (73%) in the latest official data, compared to 2019. The data shows that Gatwick and Manchester airports are the worse affected in Europe, with Heathrow and Stansted close behind.

According to world trade body the International Air Transport Association, 860,000 jobs in UK aviation travel and tourism have been lost or are on furlough and are at risk of being lost.

The Government claims to have made available £7bn in support to UK aviation but most of this is either standard furlough payments or loans which the industry will struggle to pay back with virtually no income. By contrast, European and US Governments have given direct financial support to their airlines which the UK Government promised but has failed to deliver.


Notes to editors

BALPA representatives are available for interview at each of the activities taking place as part of the Travel Day of Action.
To follow the day on social media follow BALPA on Facebook and Twitter and the #TravelDayofAction and #Speakupfortravel hashtags
BALPA is the professional association and registered trade union established to represent the interests of all UK pilots.
BALPA represent over 10,000 pilots and are recognised in 23 different companies; over 85% of all commercial pilots flying in the UK.

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:
Henry Robsonhenry@100vision.co.uk 07958 778244