Norwegian airline’s decision to resume short haul flights from Gatwick from July has been cautiously welcomed as a positive sign for the airport’s workers by Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union.

Norwegian had previously indicated that flights from the airport would not resume until March 2021. However, the airline announced today (Wednesday 17 June) that it is resuming operations in July due to increasing customer demand for flights between Gatwick and Oslo and Copenhagen. 

Unite said the move was evidence that ‘green shoots’ of recovery are beginning to appear and could help preserve jobs at ABM, which holds the Gatwick ground handling contract for Norwegian. 

Despite this, the union warned that urgent government support for the sector is needed if the aviation industry is to survive the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic disruption 'in any recognisable form'.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “Norwegian’s decision is a positive sign for Gatwick and the workers and communities that depend on the airport. The resumption of flights has the potential to save ground handling jobs at ABM, a company Unite has been working very closely with during the pandemic. Unite is also seeking to determine whether Gatwick-based OSM staff who are employed as cabin crew on behalf of Norwegian will begin flying again.  

“Though the early resumption of flights at Gatwick by Norwegian is evidence of the first green shoots of recovery for the aviation sector, it cannot be stressed enough that the industry is still in dire need of government support. For the aviation industry and the thousands of jobs and businesses that depend on it to survive in any recognisable form, ministers must take action immediately.” 

Unite has produced a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector, including airlines and airports, to protect the jobs and conditions of workers. Such loans would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring strict environmental standards to be adopted to radically improve the industry’s carbon footprint.

ENDS

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: ryan.fletcher@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.