It is evident that the global aviation industry is facing an unprecedented challenge in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. However, the announcement by British Airways that they are making nearly 30% of its workforce redundant came as a huge shock given the airline claimed to be in a healthy financial position and not in need of support from the UK Government.
The SNP is clear that job cuts should not be first response to be considered and that airlines – including British Airways – should instead seek to work with the UK Government to explore other funding options to maintain the sustainability of jobs, including use of the Jobs Retention Scheme.
The UK Government’s inaction on aviation thus far has been lamentable; however, the Chancellor has stated that he would work with individual airlines and British Airways should seek to engage with him to this end.
The SNP at Westminster has called on British Airways to urgently rethink their approach and engage constructively with the government in order to save as many jobs as possible.
The Scottish Government will continue to work to ensure Scotland’s aviation can emerge from this crisis in a strong position, including ensuring airports and ground handling service providers will receive 100% business rate relief for a year. This forms part of a £2.2bn support package announced to help businesses deal with the impact of the outbreak.
These are undoubtedly difficult times for the aviation industry but job cuts on this scale have a hugely detrimental impact and must remain the last resort of any business.