Airport cutbacks

800 Scots jobs at risk as Swissport cuts half workforce


Swissport operates at almost all UK airports

As many as 800 ground handling jobs at Scottish airports are expected to be among 4,556 being axed by Swissport.

The cutbacks -– half the total workforce in the UK and Ireland – were announced to the staff this morning.

Unite, the trade union, described the announcement as ‘absolutely devastating news’.

Swissport’s chief executive for western Europe, Jason Holt, said it had been “hit hard” by COVID-19 with revenues “almost completely lost”, according to a memo seen by Sky News.

Mr Holt said: “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.”

He pointed to industry forecasts suggesting traffic may not recover to 2019 levels until as late as 2024.

Swissport employs around 8,500 people in the UK and Ireland, with operations across London as well as regional airports, and the jobs being lost represent 53% of the workforce.

Swissport is the country’s largest ground handler, handling flights coming into nearly every regional airport across the UK. It provides ground handling services to many major airlines, including ticketing and baggage handling. 

Although the final details on the job losses effecting each airport have not been released, Unite Scotland fears that more than 800 jobs could be lost at Scottish regional airports with up to 70 at Aberdeen, 300 at Edinburgh and 440 at Glasgow Airport.

Unite is demanding that the UK Government urgently intervene with a bespoke financial package and an extension of the 80% furlough scheme for the aviation industry. 

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The union has also called for the newly-established Aerospace Response Group by the Scottish Government to include the civil aviation industry, and, repeated its call that unless both the Scottish and UK Governments bring forward supportive sectoral measures then Scottish airports could be on the brink of collapse. 

Pat McIlvogue, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The announcement by Swissport is absolutely devastating news with more than 800 jobs being potentially lost at all three major Scottish airports.

“We are now witnessing the domino effect cascading throughout the civil aviation industry from cabin crew to airport workers through to baggage handlers and security staff.

“The industry is so integrated that if one domino falls – they all do. It’s an imperative that the Scottish and UK Governments bring forward a tailored supportive package for the industry because if we don’t then thousands of jobs will be lost and when we come out of lockdown there will be no workers in any major Scottish airports left to support the industry getting back off the ground.”  

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