Envionmentalists urge governments to resist ‘unfair’ airline bailouts

A wide-ranging group of 250 environmental groups and trades unions are urging governments not to bail out airlines facing collapse under the coronavirus crisis.

The ‘Stay Grounded’ collective covering 25 countries signed an open letter calling on nations to resist aviation lobby attempts to rush into “unfair bailouts”.

Governments should embed social and environmental conditions, with proper protection for workers and a planned transition towards “climate-just mobility”.

The group’s list of demands include transforming the transport sector by cutting air travel demand and strengthening low-carbon alternatives like rail travel.

MoreLatest coronavirus news and updates

Travel Weekly coronavirus resource centre

Stay Grounded spokesperson Magdalena Heuwieser said: “For decades, the aviation industry has avoided contributing meaningfully to global climate goals and resisted the merest suggestion of taxes on fuel or tickets.

“Now, airlines, airports and manufacturers are demanding huge and unconditional taxpayer-backed bailouts.

‘Profits privatised while public expected to pay for losses’

“We cannot let the aviation industry get away with privatising profits in the good times, and expect the public to pay for its losses in the bad times.”

Tahir Latif, from the UK Public and Commercial Services Union, which also represents workers in the aviation sector, added: “The collapse of the aviation industry has left workers feeling vulnerable and insecure about their future.

“PCS and other trade unions are demanding that financial, labour and health protections are directed to aid workers.

“A real living basic income to enable workers to see through the crisis has to be prioritised above corporate bailouts.

Public ownership demand

“We demand public ownership of our transport systems to enable a more humane and coherent response in the case of any similar crisis in the future, and to commence right now the task of planning the just transition of workers to jobs geared toward dealing the impact of transport, particularly aviation, on climate change.”

Virgin Atlantic has led calls for government support but UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has told airlines to look to their own shareholders to keep them running.

However, easyJet on Monday secured £600 million in credit through the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) as it looks to maximise liquidity while its fleet is grounded. Norwegian Air has also received financial backing from its government in Oslo.

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.