Boris Johnson says 'a huge amount' being done to support aviation sector

15 July 2020, 12:31

Boris Johnson said the Government is doing "a huge amount" to support the aviation sector
Boris Johnson said the Government is doing "a huge amount" to support the aviation sector. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson has said that a "huge amount" is being done to support the aviation sector, but has warned not every job can be saved.

Labour leader Keir Starmer warned the Government's decision to not provide sector-specific support to those most at risk "could end up costing thousands of jobs".

The warning comes after dozens of airlines announce cuts to jobs due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus crisis on the travel industry.

Other sectors have also made redundancies as the country struggles to deal with the lockdown and the associated economic impact.

Read more: Emirates axing up to 9,000 jobs due to coronavirus pandemic

Sir Keir said: "Over the last few months we've supported many of the economic measures announced by the Government but the decision last week not to provide sector-specific support to those most at risk could end up costing thousands of jobs.

"One of the sectors, aviation, has already seen huge redundancies. BA have announced 12,000 redundancies, Virgin, 3,000, easyJet 1,900.

"If the Government's priority really is to protect jobs, why did the Chancellor not bring forward sector specific deals that could have done precisely that?"

Read more: Ryanair set to lay off 3,000 staff amid coronavirus impact

Boris Johnson replied: "No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge that this country faces and that is why the Chancellor has brought forward a range of measures which by the way he supported last week."

Read more: Easyjet looking at plans to close three of its bases and cut 5,000 staff

Boris Johnson said the Government is doing "a huge amount" to support the aviation sector.

He said: "One of the companies he (Sir Keir) mentions, Virgin, has now come out of the Birch process after extremely difficult, but in the end, productive conversations."

Sir Keir Starmer said: "The problem with the Prime Minister's dismissal of this is that since the Chancellor set down last week around 10,000 people have lost their jobs. The Prime Minister should focus on them not the rhetoric.

"And the OBR yesterday projected 3.5 million unemployed next year."

Boris Johnson said the Government cannot ensure every job is retained.

Sir Keir Starmer added: "Alongside the 12,000 redundancies already announced, BA is trying to force through the rehiring of the remaining 30,000 workers on worse terms and conditions. That is totally unacceptable and it is a warning shot to many other working people."

He said: "Will the Prime Minister now personally intervene and make clear that actions like those at BA cannot be allowed to stand without consequences for landing slots?"

Mr Johnson said: "Let's be absolutely clear, British Airways and many other companies are in severe difficulties at the moment and we cannot, I'm afraid, simply with a magic wand ensure that every single job that was being done before the crisis is retained after the crisis.

"What we can do and what we are doing is encouraging companies to keep their workers on with the Job Retention Scheme, with the Job Retention Bonus and with a massive programme in investing in this country, a £600 million investment programme in this country to build, build, build and create jobs, jobs, jobs."

On Tuesday Virgin Atlantic unveiled a £1.2 billion bailout package involving only private funds.

The plan to secure its future includes £200 million being provided by founder Sir Richard Branson's
Virgin Group.

Support has also been given by Delta Air Lines - which owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic - new private investors and existing creditors.

The deal must secure approval from relevant creditors through a process introduced as part of Government reforms to corporate restructurings.

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