Thousands of UK jobs are set to be lost at ground-handling giant Swissport as a result of the impact on air travel caused by the coronavirus crisis, staff were told today.
The company is planning to cut more than 4,500 jobs in the UK as the aviation industry reels from the coronavirus pandemic.
Swissport will let go 53% of its UK workforce, with its revenue collapsing in recent months and air travel not expected to return to pre-virus levels for several years. It has workers at airports across the UK, and is reported to be Britain’s biggest airport ground handling company.
“The unfortunate fact is that there simply aren’t enough aircraft flying for our business to continue running as it did before the Covid-19 outbreak, and there won’t be again for some time to come. We must adapt to this new reality,” chief executive for Western Europe Jason Holt told staff in a memo seen by Yahoo Finance UK.
He said the company’s revenue had been “almost completely lost” during the pandemic so far, with income down 75% in May. Holt told staff in the memo the cuts were necessary to survive and secure a “lifeline of funding” from lenders and investors.
Holt added: ““It’s true that we’ve seen tough times before – volcanic cloud, 9/11, the financial crisis – and we’ve weathered these. But this time it’s different. We have never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetimes.
“We are now facing a long period of uncertainty and reduced flight numbers, along with significant changes taking place to the way people travel and the way goods move around the world. There is no escaping the fact that the industry is now smaller than it was, and it will remain so for some time to come.”
Union leaders called the announcement “devastating,” and echoed airlines’ repeated calls for a UK government bailout for the struggling aviation sector.
Swissport employs 8,500 workers at airports, including baggage handlers and check-in staff.