UK aviation hit hardest in Europe, says BALPA

Flights in and out of the UK have collapsed by three-quarters, with over 860,000 jobs put at risk 

An analysis conducted by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has revealed that the UK aviation sector has been hit the hardest in Europe by the restrictions on international travel.  

European air traffic agency, Eurocontrol has had its data published by BALPA ahead of the national ‘Travel Day of Action’ on June 23.  

It was recorded that the number of flights departing and arriving into the UK declined by 73% compared to 2019. Furthermore, it was identified that Manchester and Gatwick are the worst affected, followed by Heathrow and Stansted. 

Heathrow Airport
Photo Heathrow Airport

Brian Strutton, BALPA general secretary, said the UK aviation industry was the worst affected due to the “government’s ludicrously cautious restrictions on international travel”.  

He said: “Hapless ministers give all the appearance of deliberately attacking aviation and tormenting the public with their mixed messages over summer holidays. BALPA is demanding that the UK government gets its act together and opens the US routes and European holiday travel destinations that it has blocked with no published evidence at all.” 

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 860,000 jobs in the UK aviation travel and tourism sector have been lost, been placed on furlough or at risk of being made redundant.  

The government said that £7bn in support has been granted to the industry, however it has been found that most of this financial aid was made in furlough payments or loans, which are required to be paid back.  

In comparison, European and US governments have provided direct monetary funding to airlines – a promise British ministers never delivered.  

Due to this, BALPA pilots plan on relaying their grievances to MPs in Westminster on June 23 alongside other aviation personnel joining at Heathrow, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester airports.  

They are calling for the government to allow international travel to return in a risk mannered way, by properly utilising the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a universal traffic light system. They are also allowing for the ‘green list’ to be expanded in line with current health data.  

“This week pilots will be calling on the government to act now to save jobs by taking a transparent, evidence-based approach to travel restrictions, extending the furlough scheme and helping airlines and airports weather this storm through direct financial support,” Strutton concluded.