Tens of thousands of planes have been grounded for over a year because of the pandemic. In April 2020, air travel around the world was phased out by 94% from April 2019. In June 2021, it was still 60% down in June 2019 thanks to canceled vacations, shelved work trips, and long-planned trips to see family and friends relocate at another time.

Never has a global industry collapsed with such speed. From a climate point of view, this has been a cause for celebration. It represented a chance to reduce emissions which contribute significantly to climate change and pollute our air.

Some people living near an airport may also have appreciated the reduced noise. But many others will worry about the effect that the long-term reduction in air travel could have on their community’s economy.

Will the industry rebound?

Industrial organizations estimate that it may take five years for passenger demand to return to pre-pandemic levels. It’s a recovery expected longer than any other mode of transport. Overall an estimate 46 million jobs were found to be at risk. It’s not only pilots or cabin crew; it is also those who check your luggage or prepare your lunch.

But will the airline industry even rebound in five years? Find our team completed early 2021 in Bristol, an English city with an airport and a century-old aviation industry, found that almost 60% of respondents expect to fly less in the future. Many of our respondents cited climate change and the pandemic as equally important reasons. Other polls have shown that a lot elsewhere be careful to fly in the future too.

Businesses can operate differently as well. The poll found that four in ten business travelers are likely to fly less in the future. Business class seats represent a significant portion of airline revenue – on some flights, business travel may account for 75% of turnover.

Aside from the ideas on electric planes for now, it seems obvious that we will have to fly less to move to a zero carbon economy. Two thirds of people want a post-pandemic economic recovery to prioritize climate change. This means fewer planes and fewer jobs for the crew and baggage handlers etc.

Rebuilding communities

The decline of older industries like mining, textiles or pottery resulted in high unemployment in towns that were heavily dependent on one of them. We all know how the closure of a pit or a local auto factory caused the decline of once vibrant cities, leaving a generation struggling with unemployment and the need to retrain.

The steelworks were tucked deep into the fabric of neighboring communities. Their closure removed the pivot around which life, work and leisure were based. So with the pandemic, entire communities Are at risk of a similar economic decline.

In summer 2020 the unemployment rate (whether unemployed or on leave) was higher in areas close to UK airports. In Hounslow (near London Heathrow) it was 40% of the population – with an estimated loss of £ 1 billion for the borough’s economy. At Gatwick Airport in 2020 there were job losses for 40% of its workforce, many of whom live in nearby towns such as Crawley.

Cities like Hounslow depend heavily on the nearby airport for employment.
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Many cities and communities depend economically on neighboring airports. Luton Airport is estimated to have maintained over 27,000 jobs (directly and indirectly) and is a major employer in the region. The decline of the sector also has wider effects on subsidiary industries, such as taxis, maintenance, catering and hotels.

So what to do? the Green Jobs Working Group, an industry and government initiative set up in 2020 to examine future employment, called on the UK government to invest in jobs related to wind turbines, electric trains and replacing gas boilers.

Any version of a new green deal is necessarily a job-heavy economy, with a lot of work needed to change the infrastructure that powers our current way of life. British government Ten point plan for the green industrial revolution promises 250,000 green jobs. The political question here is whether politicians and policymakers will be brave enough to resist an aviation rebound and invest in a longer term future for these airport cities, to prevent them from suffering a decade. of decline.

This is expected to lead to job losses in aviation and will require highly targeted support for cities or regions dependent on airport employment. To rebuild better, a green recovery must seek to support these communities and provide them with new opportunities and new livelihoods.


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