Pilots’ union sets out four-point wish list for new government

Political candidates in the general election are being urged by the pilots union to signal support for its manifesto for aviation.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association is calling for four key policy areas to be addressed by the next government.

Balpa, which represents 10,000 UK pilots, wants to see the high cost of training – up to £130,000 – addressed and self-funding cadets’ training costs protected.

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The association is calling for an end to ”nasty” industrial practices seen in recent years, primarily fire and re-hire, as well as anti-union legislation repealed and “atypical employment being used to undermine terms and conditions”.

Whichever political party is voted in on July 4 must accelerate airlines’ flight path to ‘jet zero’ and sustainabilityso that aviation speeds up its progress towards decarbonisation.

Pilot pensions saved over decades of work should also be protected, according to Balpa, which claims that one in four electoral constituencies has more than 1,000 people employed directly by aviation companies, and 60% have
over 500.

General secretary Amy Leversidge said: “With 60% of electoral constituencies having over 500 residents employed by aviation, candidates – especially those near airports – should take note of Balpa’s asks of the next government.

“Balpa looks forward to working with the next government to deliver these key policies that will enable our aviation industry to continue thriving, employing highly skilled workers on fair terms and connect our airlines with the world.”

Meanwhile, Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, commenting on the aviation measures announced in the Labour Party’s general election manifesto, said: “We are pleased to see Labour commit to supporting sustainable aviation fuel and airspace modernisation, though more detail of just how they will do so is required. It is also welcome that there are no planned increases in aviation taxes or measures designed to restrict demand.

“It is important that airports can make best of use of their facilities however, the planning system often holds back infrastructure projects aimed at supporting economic growth, so it is positive that Labour has committed to ensuring it meets the needs of the modern economy. Further detail will be required, however, to see what the party would do in government.”

But she added: “We would have liked to see more policies aimed at encouraging visitors to come to the UK, for business and leisure, including arrivals duty-free, tax-free shopping and changing the rules around transit passengers requiring an ETA [Electronic Travel Authorisation].”

The Labour manifesto says it would “secure the UK aviation industry’s long-term future, including through promoting sustainable aviation fuels, and encouraging airspace modernisation”.

The Conservative manifesto pledges to “support the growth and decarbonisation of our aviation sector” and backs British sustainable aviation fuel through its SAF mandate, an industry-backed revenue support mechanism and investment in future aviation technology. 

“We will support domestic flights including through Public Service Obligations, protecting vital routes within the UK, including to islands and remote areas,” the Tory party adds.

The Liberal Democrats say they will “invest in research and development to make the UK the world leader in zero-carbon flight” but “take steps to reduce demand for flying”.

The Green Party pledges to push for a frequent flyer levy, ban domestic flights that would take less then three hours by train and halt the expansion of new airport capacity.

Reform UK’s charter does not mention aviation but calls for an improvement of existing rail and road links.

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