JOBS could be lost among ground crew at Leeds-Bradford Airport after a major employer at airports worldwide announced jobs cuts.
Swissport have announced it is to cut 4,556 jobs in the UK – more than half its workforce – but it said it did not know yet how many workers at LBA would be affected.
Jason Holt, CEO of Swissport UK&I, said: “Swissport is an essential part of the country’s supply chain and pivotal to the UK and Ireland’s aviation industry. But the Covid-19 outbreak has hit us hard, beginning with the collapse of Flybe back in March.
“At its core, our business relies on a high volume of flights taking place. When aircraft aren’t flying, our source of revenue disappears. As of May, revenue has dropped by around 75% across our business. ”
Unions have called on government to announce bespoke financial package to save beleaguered aviation industry.
GMB and Unite, the two union’s representing Swissport workers, described the company’s decision “devastating news”.
Swissport is the country’s largest ground handler; handling flights coming into nearly every regional airport across the UK. They provide ground handling services to many major airlines, including ticketing and baggage handling.
Mr Holt added: “We are grateful for the help of Government support schemes, which have allowed us to take the time to properly consider our position and do everything possible to work for solutions that will protect jobs.
“But we now must adapt to the unfortunate reality that there simply aren’t enough aircraft flying for our business to continue running as it did before Covid-19; and there won’t be for some time to come.
“It is with regret that today we are taking steps to reduce the size of Swissport’s workforce. Of our circa 8,500 Swissport employees, we expect upwards of 4,000 will leave us, comprising around 50% of our workforce.
“I want to stress that this isn’t in any way a reflection on the dedication of our teams and the quality of their work. The situation we’re facing is one shared by the whole industry. These are very challenging existential times.
“This is a hard decision to make, but immeasurably harder for our colleagues to hear. But it’s an essential decision if we are to keep operating and to protect as many livelihoods as possible in the long run.”
Mr Holt said in a message to staff: “We must do this to secure the lifeline of funding from lenders and investors to protect as many jobs as possible in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
“It’s true that we’ve seen tough times before – volcanic cloud, 9/11, the financial crisis – and we’ve weathered these. But this time it’s different. We have never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetimes.
“We are now facing a long period of uncertainty and reduced flight numbers, along with significant changes taking place to the way people travel and the way goods move around the world. There is no escaping the fact that the industry is now smaller than it was, and it will remain so for some time to come.
“Our company is a crucial part of the industry triangle made up of airports, airlines and airport services companies, but we operate a low-margin, high-volume business model.
“When aircraft aren’t flying our source of revenue evaporates. The unfortunate fact is that there simply aren’t enough aircraft flying for our business to continue running as it did before the Covid-19 outbreak, and there won’t be again for some time to come. We must adapt to this new reality.
“Although our airline partners are hoping to increase their numbers of flights, they too are struggling to plan schedules and stick to them.
“The International Air Transport Association has forecast that airline industry traffic may not recover to 2019 levels until 2023, and under some scenarios not until 2024.”
Nadine Houghton, national officer of the GMB, said: “With Swissport now considering job cuts on this scale we have deep concerns about the viability of many of our regional airports and the benefits for regional connectivity that they bring.”
Oliver Richardson, national officer of Unite, said: “We can’t wait any longer, the UK Government needs to urgently intervene with a bespoke financial package and an extension of the 80% furlough scheme for the aviation industry.
“Speed is of the essence if the Government is to save thousands of aviation jobs and livelihoods.”