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Politicians urge furlough extension for travel industry

A group of 77 cross-party MPs and peers has written a joint letter to the chancellor calling on him to extend the furlough scheme for the aviation, travel and tourism industries.

The letter to Rishi Sunak has been organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Future of Aviation Group.

It comes as the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that 57% of passenger air transport employees remain on furlough, alongside 51% for travel agency and tour operator activities.

The letter has been signed by Henry Smith – MP for Crawley, who has Gatwick airport in his constituency and is the chair of the APPG for the Future of Aviation – along with former ministers Esther McVey MP, Steve Baker MP, Tobias Ellwood MP and the chair of the foreign affairs select committee Tom Tugendhat MP, among others.

The furlough scheme is being wound down and will cover 70% of wages in July, with participating firms having to pick up a further 10%. In August and September, the government will cover 60%, with companies contributing the extra 20%.


MoreFurlough scheme to be extended to end of September


Smith said: “With aviation, travel and tourism still subject to the most restrictive international travel restrictions in Europe the removal of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would come as a devastating blow to an industry that has borne the brunt of the pandemic.

“They were the first industry to be hit by the consequences of Covid-19 and will most likely be the last to recover and without continuing employment support it is inevitable that we will see significant job losses that will only further delay our ability to bounce back and rebuild our economy.

“The recovery of our aviation, travel and tourism industry is being held back by the UK’s approach to international travel and as such they have an obligation to and must protect these jobs until restrictions are removed or risk the significant damage that the removal of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cause. The Chancellor deserves credit for protecting jobs during the pandemic, but that protection remains needed and furlough must be kept for the aviation, travel and tourism industries.”

The full letter is below:

Dear Chancellor,

We are writing to you as a group of cross-party MPs and Peers to urge you to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for workers in the aviation, travel and tourism industries until March 2022 in order to prevent significant job losses when the scheme is due to close in September.

As you will know, our aviation, travel and tourism sectors were the first to be impacted as a consequence of COVID-19, with passenger numbers collapsing from March 2020 and with recovery likely to take a number of years, these will also be one of the last sectors to recover.

The consequences on our aviation, travel and tourism sectors have been devastating, with businesses seeing little or no revenue for over fifteen months, significant job losses and the risk of business failure remaining a real risk.

However, with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme due to close in September, we run the very real risk of a major jobs crisis in the industry. The latest ONS statistics show that 57% of employees in passenger air transport and 51% of those employed by travel agency and tour operators remain on furlough. With a lost summer season coming on top of the worst fifteen months in the history of UK aviation, without the continuing support of the CJRS the risk of significant redundancies will become a stark and devastating reality.

Throughout the pandemic, the increase in unemployment in airport constituencies has been consistently higher than the national average putting strain on local economies. But we must not forget that our aviation, travel and tourism industries are major economic enablers locally, regionally and nationally and that a failure to protect jobs will impact our national recovery.

We must express the urgency and the importance of extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, without which we will see further job losses and business failure. As one of the few sectors remaining under significant restrictions the case for further support is irrefutable and we urge you to not only extend the scheme but to work with industry to provide further much needed financial support.

List of signatories

Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley, Chair, Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group
Rushanara Ali, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green & Bow Steve Baker, Member of Parliament for Wycombe
Peter Bone, Member of Parliament for Wellingborough
Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw, Member of Parliament for Exeter
Alan Brown, Member of Parliament for Kilmarnock & Loudoun
Dr Lisa Cameron, Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow Wendy Chamberlain, Member of Parliament for North East Fife
Douglas Chapman, Member of Parliament for Dunfermline & West Fife
Sir Ed Davey, Member of Parliament for Kingston & Surbiton
Martin Docherty-Hughes, Member of Parliament for West Dunbartonshire
Allan Dorans, Member of Parliament for Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock
Maria Eagle, Member of Parliament for Garston & Halewood
Colum Eastwood, Member of Parliament for Foyle
Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood, Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East
Tim Farron, Member of Parliament for Westmorland & Lonsdale
Dr Stephen Farry, Member of Parliament for North Down
Marion Fellows, Member of Parliament for Motherwell & Wishaw
Margaret Ferrier, Member of Parliament for Rutherglen & Hamilton West
Yvonne Fovargue, Member of Parliament for Makerfield
Sir Roger Gale, Member of Parliament for North Thanet
Patricia Gibson, Member of Parliament for North Ayrshire & Arran
Patrick Grady, Member of Parliament for Glasgow North
Andrew Gwynne, Member of Parliament for Denton & Reddish
Drew Hendry, Member of Parliament for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey Christine Jardine, Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West
Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for Durham North
Simon Jupp, Member of Parliament for East Devon
Barbara Keeley, Member of Parliament for Worsley & Eccles South
Pauline Latham, Member of Parliament for Mid Derbyshire
Emma Lewell-Buck, Member of Parliament for South Shields
Carla Lockhart, Member of Parliament for Upper Bann
Jonathan Lord, Member of Parliament for Woking
Tim Loughton, Member of Parliament for East Worthing & Shoreham
Kenny Macaskill, Member of Parliament for East Lothian
Siobhain McDonagh, Member of Parliament for Mitcham & Morden
Stewart McDonald, Member of Parliament for Glasgow South
Rt Hon John McDonnell, Member of Parliament for Hayes & Harlington
Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne North
Rt Hon Esther McVey, Member of Parliament for Tatton
Ian Mearns, Member of Parliament for Gateshead
Navendu Mishra, Member of Parliament for Stockport
Layla Moran, Member of Parliament for Oxford West & Abingdon
Gavin Newlands, Member of Parliament for Paisley & Renfrewshire North
John Nicolson, Member of Parliament for Ochil & South Perthshire
Sarah Olney, Member of Parliament for Richmond Park
Kirsten Oswald, Member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire
Ian Paisley, Member of Parliament for North Antrim
Andrew Percy, Member of Parliament for Brigg & Goole
Anum Qaisar-Javed, Member of Parliament for Airdrie & Shotts
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Member of Parliament for Streatham
Laurence Robertson, Member of Parliament for Tewkesbury
Andrew Rosindell, Member of Parliament for Romford
Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament for Ealing, Southall
Jamie Stone, Member of Parliament for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross
Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne, Member of Parliament for New Forest West
Alison Thewliss, Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central
Richard Thomson, Member of Parliament for Gordon
Tom Tugendhat MBE, Member of Parliament for Tonbridge & Malling
Rt Hon Valerie Vaz, Member of Parliament for Walsall South
Dr Philippa Whitford, Member of Parliament for Central Ayrshire
Mick Whitley, Member of Parliament for Birkenhead
Lord Bowness
Lord Campbell of Pittenweem
Lord Davies of Gower
Lord Dodds of Duncairn
Baroness Foster of Oxton
Baroness Harris of Richmond
Lord Jones of Cheltenham
Lord Mackay of Clashfern
Lord Moylan
Lord Ramsbotham
Lord Rana
Baroness Randerson
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick
Lord Rogan
Lord Selkirk of Douglas

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