Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Half of all Swissport jobs to go in the UK

Photo Swissport
Airport handling giant Swissport has announced that it will cut its workforce by up to 4556 people in the UK as it struggles to cope with the after-effects of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and the massive downturn in passenger flights. 

The Chief executive Jason Holt said the company had to reduce the size of its workforce, by over half, in order to survive.  In a memo to staff, he said: "We must do this to secure the lifeline of funding from lenders and investors to protect as many jobs as possible in the UK 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."

The handling giant has operations at almost all the major airports in the UK including  London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Birmingham, East Midlands, Norwich, Newcastle, Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Liverpool, Exter and Doncaster.   

Photo Swissport
Whilst some airlines have started or are about to start limited flight schedules, Swissport has said its revenue forecast for the year is about 50% of what it was last year and therefore cuts were inevitable.  

The major unions have greeted the news with disappointment and concern, Nadine Houghton of 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, from Unite Union, was less concerned but blamed the government for inaction, he 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."

Elsewhere the global firm has been cutting back,  at the start of the month it announced that it would be halting ground handling services in Belgium and reducing staff in Germany and Austria. 

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