Dramatic fall in flights from Stansted Airport could harm region’s economy

Stansted Airport during the coronavirus shutdown, taken from a police drone Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Stansted Airport during the coronavirus shutdown, taken from a police drone Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

Fewer flights from Stansted could have a huge impact on the region’s economy, it has been warned - as a further spate of job cuts hit the airport.

London Stansted’s terminal building Picture: STANSTED AIRPORT

London Stansteds terminal building Picture: STANSTED AIRPORT - Credit: Archant

In August this year, 68.5% fewer passengers used Stansted Airport compared to 2019.

According to the Unite union, this means a drop from 890 planes a week to just 157.

Unite says this could lead to two-thirds of Stobart Aviation baggage handlers being made redundant - just as pub chain Wetherspoon announced staff at UK airports, including Stansted, could lose their jobs.

A spokesman for London Stansted said: “Aviation is vital to our regional and national economy, with 12,000 people relying directly on London Stansted for employment and countless more through the supply chain across the region.

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“The seriousness of the challenges facing aviation cannot be overstated, which in turn undermines the ability of sectors such as tourism and higher education, and businesses who export globally, to help drive our recovery.

“While other governments across the world have stepped in to support their aviation industries, failure of the UK government to intervene means the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families across the country will be on the line.

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“That is why we have repeatedly called for urgent government support from the outset, including much-needed clarity on a testing regime for travellers to reduce the need to quarantine, an extension to the furlough scheme and a review of passenger taxes, which are already among the highest in the world.”

But David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, said the impact had been felt more widely than by just those employed at the airport.

He said: “Although Stansted has seen increased freight traffic through the airport, the government’s quarantine regulations have led to a major reduction in passenger flights.

“I am sure there will have been job losses at the airport as a result of these measures and this will have impacted on suppliers to the airport itself and the airlines using it.

“With many of those staff likely to live in Essex, that could potentially have a knock on effect to other businesses through reduced spending by affected employees.

Unite regional officer Mark Barter said: “Aviation workers throughout eastern England are pleading with the chancellor to keep the promise he made in March and provide support for the sector.

“They have now been waiting for months and hundreds of jobs across the region have been lost as a result.

“The aviation industry is a major part of the local economy but faces devastation without immediate government support, hurting workers, communities and businesses alike.

“The delay is inexcusable, especially given the prompt actions of other countries to support their aviation industries.

“Unite is also calling for employers not to hollow out their operations in response to a temporary downturn.”

Christian Brodie, chairman of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), said the organisation has been trying to help those affected by the downturn in the aviation industry.

He said: “The tourism and visitor sectors have been heavily hit over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This has been felt keenly in the South East, where the aviation industry is a significant contributor to the economy, with Stansted Airport a major employer in Essex.

“The South East LEP will continue to be supportive of the industries and will work with our local areas to put in place measures that aim to offset and minimise the impact being felt in the aviation industry and associated supply chain.”

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