Manchester Airports Group says almost 900 jobs at risk

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) warned on Wednesday that almost 900 jobs at its three airports are at risk as it blamed “an absence of support for the sector” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

MAG announced that 465 jobs at Manchester Airport are at risk as well as 376 roles at the group’s London Stansted Airport and 51 positions at its East Midlands Airport.

Unite the union said “a total failure of government” had let down MAG staff.

MAG operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports and is privately managed on behalf of its shareholders — Australian investment fund IFM Investors (35.5%), Manchester City Council (35.5%) and nine other Greater Manchester councils (29%). 

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish said on Wednesday: “By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand.

“Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened.

“With uncertainty about when a vaccine will be widely available, we need to be realistic about when demand is likely to recover.

“The end of the Job Retention Scheme means that we have to consider the number of roles that we can sustain at our airports.

“We will be discussing these issues with our trade unions, and consulting them fully on a range of options for reducing the size and overall cost of our workforce.

“We want to work with them to make sure we minimise the impact on our people as much as we can …

“MAG and other UK airports remain fundamentally strong businesses that will play an important role in driving the country’s recovery, but the specific and short term pressures of the pandemic are exceptional and particularly challenging for our sector.

“We are proud of our long-standing role in supporting communities around our airports and underpinning the employment of more than 130,000 people across the UK.

“We will continue to work to protect as many jobs as possible, maintain dialogue with our trade unions, and continue to make the case to government for the direct support that UK aviation needs.”

The Unite union’s regional co-ordinating officer Lawrence Chapple-Gill said: “Unite will do everything it can to reduce job losses and seek to ensure that any eventual redundancies are voluntary and not compulsory in nature.

“These job losses are an inevitable consequence of the government’s failure to provide sector specific support to the aviation industry, the sector which has been most heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Once Covid-19 is under control, confidence will return to the industry and flights will increase.

“It is a total failure of government to not be assisting the industry and its workforce through this crisis in order to ensure it can quickly recover when the virus abates.

“The chancellor first promised sector support in March. An aviation recovery plan was promised last month.

“Nothing has materialised and job losses are increasing by the day.”