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Pilots condemn Chancellor for furloughing then forgetting the aviation industry


With just 50 days to go until the end of furlough, British pilots are highlighting the potential devastation to UK aviation that the closing of the furlough scheme could cause.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 57% of remaining employees in passenger air transport companies are on furlough and The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) fears these skills could be lost for good when the furlough scheme ends on 30th September.

BALPA has launched a countdown to the end of furlough and is calling on the Government for a sector specific extension to furlough- a vital lifeline for the industry that relies on highly trained professionals.

Without the extension, the Government risks the loss of the highly skilled pool of pilots and the industry will not be able to respond when demand returns.

BALPA’s Acting General Secretary Martin Chalk said:

 “We demand a meeting with the Chancellor for an explanation as to why he has furloughed our industry, ostensibly to bridge back to normal operations, and then ignored the deeply depressed and artificially constrained situation that aviation still faces.

 “All the evidence points to a dismal summer season thanks to Government restrictions that have been removed from all other sectors.

 “UK bookings compared to those in other parts of Europe are atrocious and with almost all of the profitable summer season already gone, the aviation industry remains the only industry still effectively in lockdown.

“Without an extension of furlough, the aviation workforce including pilots are being asked to suffer the fallout from Government incoherence and inaction.”

You can view a message from Martin Chalk below:

Notes for editors:

  1. BALPA has written to the Chancellor: the letter can be read here.
  2. BALPA has published a ‘State of the Industry’ dossier setting out the scale of Covid-19’s impact on aviation, why Government should support it as part of the economic recovery.
  3. ONS July 2021 figures for furlough are available here.
  4. Aviation employees can easily be identified by those who hold ‘airside’ passes, approved by the Department for Transport, which allow them to go through airport security for work purposes. These are required for pilots, cabin crew, engineers, airport workers such as baggage handlers, fuellers and security staff. Alternatively, most key airport workers require a licence, attestation or special security training to work at airports, providing another method for furlough identification.