UK pilots in new call to government

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has called on the UK Government to facilitate a round table discussion with the Transport Secretary

The organisation has called on the Transport Security to discuss the failings of the past 18 months and put forward plans to return the industry to its former position as the third largest in the world.

BALPA noted that the industry generates £238bn for the economy and supports the employment of 4.2 million workers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions, however, the industry has seen a 90% drop in passenger numbers. This has led to 3,000 UK pilots and thousands of aviation staff being made redundant, with 57% of the remaining air transport company employees currently furloughed and facing job losses if the current furlough scheme ends as planned.

London Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

The group has also demanded a six month extension to the furlough scheme for aviation based workers, with nearly 50% of pilots who responded to a recent survey saying they would struggle to cover essential bills should the scheme end this month.

According to data collected by the association, UK traffic is down by 61% on 2019, in contrast with comparable economies such as Spain and France, which have seen traffic fall by 32% and 28% respectively.

Martin Chalk, BALPA’s acting general secretary, said: “Our current Transport Secretary has presided over the worst two summer seasons in aviation’s global history, and we have lost confidence in his support for aviation. 

“We’ve seen him waste time on ineffectual task forces, implement confusing traffic light systems and undermine public confidence whilst doing little to help those at the sharp end of the COVID crisis. Now is his last chance to back a sector so crucial to the economic recovery we know we need.”

The statements were released against a backdrop of five hour queues at border control for passengers arriving at London Heathrow, caused by staff shortages and the government’s “shambolic border rules with wholly overblown and complex requirements for testing and quarantine,” according to the organisation.

BALPA’s statement comes as a recent survey shows 98% of pilots do not have confidence in the UK Transport Secretary’s support for the industry.