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‘Don’t shut down our engines before we are clear for take-off’: the message from pilots as furlough end approaches.   

With new figures showing that air transport is the sector most reliant on furlough, pilots are imploring the Government not to remove the vital lifeline. The latest analysis of HMRC CJRS and PAYE figures shows that air transport tops the list of industry groups with the highest rates of jobs being put on furlough. On 31st July 2021, 51% of air transport workers were on furlough.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) says that with major global restrictions on travel still in place, now is not the time to remove the furlough lifeline.

The union has also highlighted once again the recent Eurocontrol figures that point to a widening gap in the recovery of UK aviation compared to its European competitors

BALPA Acting General Secretary Martin Chalk said:

“These statistics make it clear air transport is still right in the grip of the covid crisis. UK Government and global restrictions mean that while other sectors have been able to get up and running, aviation is still essentially in lockdown.

“The workforce is the engine of aviation. However, more than half of the air transport workforce is still on furlough despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s positive spin on today’s wider figures. The industry is ready to serve the country – but stopping furlough will shut down our engines before we are cleared to take off.”

“While air transport remains in lockdown, the Government must support us or jobs will be at risk, we will lose skilled workers and won’t be able to replace them when the restrictions are finally lifted and demand returns.”

“We need to see a simplified system of travel restrictions that passengers can understand and that give safe travel clearance to get the industry moving again.

“We know people want to travel, and across Europe we are seeing signs of a recovery… but the UK Government isn’t backing our industry and we can see clearly that we are losing our place as a world leader in aviation.”