The airport ground handling company Swissport is planning to cut more than 4,500 jobs in the UK as the aviation industry reels from the coronavirus pandemic
The company, handles services such as passenger baggage and cargo for airlines, has begun a consultation process that is expected to result in 4,556 workers being made redundant, more than half of its 8,500-strong UK workforce.
Swissport, already under pressure at the start of the crisis when the smaller UK airports were put at risk when Flybe went bust but the grounding of the vast majority of flights since the UK’s lockdown started has just about wiped out all revenues for many airlines and their suppliers.
Swissport’s largest operations include services at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports,Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as a host of regional airports.
The company didn’t give details of where the job losses would be, Swissport employed about 64,000 workers around the world before the crisis began.
The government’s coronavirus job retention scheme is understood to have paid the wages of 59,000 furloughed workers in the aviation industry, but the scheme ends in late October and that has prompted many companies to start making workers redundant, given that workload in some industries are not expected to recover to 2019 levels for years.
Nadine Houghton, a national officer at the GMB, said it was “devastating news” that would particularly hit regional economies.
“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,” she said.