Dear Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP,

It is sad news for the sector but welcome that the government has acknowledged that the aviation industry was amongst the first to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and will be amongst the last to recover.

We also welcome the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which has provided an essential safety net for workers and businesses across the UK.

While the scheme is still in place, no company acting in the national interest can justify the need for redundancies.

However, as potential future job losses mount and hard-earned pay, terms and conditions and livelihoods are on the line, it is time that further assurances were given to this key strategic sector.

The aviation industry works in seasons with significant forward planning, which means current uncertainty has already affected the upcoming Winter season. As such the schedule is fixed with limits to the capacity to scale up

We know now that there is no realistic prospect for a quick return to normal when lockdown is lifted, particularly while COVID-19 health measures and social distancing guidance remain in place.

In light of this logic, we urge the government to consider the merits of announcing a long-term extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the aviation sector.

We propose that the scheme is tied to the phased unlocking of restrictions, recognising the sectoral pressures, in this case on the quarantine arrangements and the industry’s seasonal way of working. This means extending the scheme until March 2021, with a review of the extension taking in place in November this year. We propose that the scheme should continue to be set at 80% of pay, with any government contribution being commensurately reduced by any rostered hours worked and paid for by employers. At the very least this should be conditioned on the fair treatment of the workforce, for instance on preventing redundancies and changes to terms and conditions.

This proposal has the backing of business, airports, trade unions and cross-party politicians alike who recognise that this would provide some much-needed stability to the industry and would be a vital lifeline to aviation workers across the country.

We also believe that it would make sound economic sense.

Furloughing workers and smoothing a possible unemployment spike is potentially more economically viable and certainly more sustainable than government expenditure on benefits and upskilling those currently employed in the industry. Importantly it would also ensure that the skills and the infrastructure that the industry requires to return to capacity are retained.

We know that this would make all the difference in ensuring our aviation industry recovers, which is of invaluable importance to the UK economy.

We are extremely concerned about the future of UK aviation and as a result we recognise that urgent action must be taken to save the industry, protect jobs and give security to aviation workers across the country.

Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of jobs depend on this sector - we urge you to support these workers and adopt this proposal.