Aviation Communities Taskforce launched at national summit

Hounslow Council has launched a national Aviation Communities Taskforce to garner support for communities across the UK which could be devastated by the downturn in aviation.

Published: Friday, 27th November 2020

Aviation communities

Support for the Taskforce was pledged at the national summit - Aviation Communities Summit 2020: ‘from the ground up’ - hosted by Hounslow Council and the West London Alliance on Tuesday, 24 November. The event heard calls from leading speakers for dedicated financial support and recognition of the vital role local communities will play in the recovery of the aviation sector.

Keynote contributions were made by the Aviation Minister, Robert Courts MP, and the Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran. The Summit also heard from Anas Sarwar, MSP for Glasgow, and Shadow Aviation Minister Mike Kane MP, alongside representatives from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the International Air Transport Association.

The Summit resolved to establish the Aviation Communities Taskforce to keep the focus on the plight of aviation communities which will be some of the hardest hit economically and socially due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.(1)

The immediate objective of the Aviation Communities Taskforce will be to further establish the implications of reduced activity in aviation around airport communities and develop broad support for compelling policy propositions to Government.

This includes the ongoing engagement around the establishment of an Aviation Communities Fund – repurposing and devolving existing Government spend on skills, employment and infrastructure in local areas so that help can be provided to those who need it the most.

Cllr Steve Curran said: “The Summit was an important milestone event in our push for recognition of the vital roles our communities will play in aviation and wider recovery, and the immediate support they need to help them through this crisis.

“Our new Taskforce will bring together key individuals and organisations nationally and come up with the solutions needed to support families and jobs. We heard excellent contributions from senior politicians and industry leaders and will now turn this into an ongoing mission to fight for the communities we represent.

Hundreds of thousands of people in communities reliant on the aviation industry are facing widespread unemployment, deprivation and barriers to securing future work. Those communities are currently missing from the discussion around the impact on airports and airlines. This must change.

“We need an Aviation Communities Fund for targeted investment in training, reskilling, low carbon jobs and local infrastructure which would support wider recovery to enable Britain to build back better and greener.”

Anas Sarwar, MSP for Glasgow, said: “There are 10,000 jobs directly connected to Glasgow airport which are under threat. Last year we had 9 million passengers through the airport, and this has fallen by 95%.

“We need to root this campaign by saying the future of your local airport is at risk. Glasgow, your local airport is at risk. Your ability to welcome people from other parts of the world, to welcome your own family members, and people who will come and support your local businesses or the business you work for is at risk. Your local economy is at risk and your ability to travel is at risk.”

Mike Kane, the Shadow Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security and MP for Wythenshawe & Sale East, said: “Manchester airport is consulting on over 600 redundancies. In Wythenshawe, Sale East and South Manchester we know there are 1500 hundred jobs on notice for redundancies. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, says this could go up to 60,000 unless we get people back into the skies and flying again. So a huge impact and as others have said, extended families work in aviation towns and that’s no exception here.”

Aviation minister Robert Courts told the summit he was personally committed to helping the aviation industry recover.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, whose constituency includes Gatwick airport, told the summit: “Unless communities come together like they’re doing today, in other forums as well, to lobby together on the broadest possible spectrum basis on behalf of aviation then I don’t think we will be successful in saving the significant number of jobs that this industry represents.”

 

  1. In Hounslow, independent research by Oxford Economics forecasts that up to £1 billion could be lost from the local economy due to the downturn at Heathrow alone, and more than 40,000 jobs are at risk due to the wider impact. Official figures from August reported 40% of the borough’s working population – 72,000 residents - were either unemployed or on furlough.

    Across West London, Oxford Economics puts the cost to the local economy from reduced operations at Heathrow at £4 billion. Major impacts are expected to be seen in other communities across the UK which have relied on airports and the thousands of associated businesses.

     
  2. More information about Aviation Communities is available at www.aviationcommunities.co.uk

Media queries should be directed to Ian Chamberlain on ian.chamberlain@hounslow.gov.uk or 07412 019 623. For out-of-hours enquiries or emergencies please call the duty communications manager on 07811 235 545.

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