120 jobs at risk for Swissport workers at Edinburgh Airport after Flybe collapse

Up to 120 jobs at Edinburgh Airport are at risk following the collapse of Flybe, the Unite union has warned.

Thursday, 12th March 2020, 12:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th March 2020, 1:18 pm

And the union says another 80 Swissport staff are under threat at Aberdeen and Glasgow airports.

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Baggage handling company begins laying off staff at Edinburgh Airport following ...

The cargo and baggage handling firm has launched a formal redundancy consultation process at all three airports.

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Flybe planes at Edinburgh Airport

A spokeswoman for the company also highlighted the COVID-19 outbreak and its “significant impact” on global aviation, with large reductions in flight passenger numbers worldwide.

On Wednesday, the Evening News was contacted by a former Swissport employee at Edinburgh Airport who received a letter stating his employment was coming to an end after the collapse of the budget airline earlier this month.

Unite, which represents the overwhelming majority of the Swissport employees at Edinburgh Airport where around 300 workers are based, has reacted to the news.

Sandy Smart, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “More than a third of the Swissport workforce at Edinburgh Airport face redundancy which would be a devastating blow. This would represent around 120 people facing unemployment in the coming weeks taking the tally to more than 200 across Swissport’s operations in Scotland.

A letter was sent to Swissport employees

“Unite repeats our call for the company to halt this redundancy process and talk to us in order to find solutions to keep people in work across all three airports. Solutions are being brought forward and routes reestablished which we believe makes these announcements totally unnecessary.”

‘Challenging period’

A Swissport spokeswoman said: “The outbreak of Covid-19 has had a significant impact on global aviation, with large reductions in flight and passenger numbers worldwide. With the unfortunate news about Flybe it is clear the sector is entering a challenging period. As the situation evolves, we have a responsibility to our employees, customers and partners to ensure our business remains resilient and reliable in this fluid market environment.

“We have launched a formal consultation process through which we will seek to agree a series of proposals which we believe will put the business on firmer footing for the future. This process will be led by employee representatives and senior management. We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for colleagues and our priority is to support them throughout this period.”

Swissport provides ground handling services including baggage handling, passenger services, plane de-icing and cleaning among others and claims to be the world's leading provider of airport ground services and air cargo handling, with 66,000 employees, operating in 307 airports.

Flybe collapse

UK airline Flybe entered into administration on March 5th.

The Exeter-based firm, which avoided going under in January, made a recent bid for financial support which failed, but said that the impact of the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak on air travel was partly to blame for its collapse.

In a letter to the airline's staff, chief executive Mark Anderson said, "Despite every effort, we now have no alternative - having failed to find a feasible solution to allow us to keep trading.

"I am very sorry that we have not been able to secure the funding needed to continue to deliver our turnaround," Mr Anderson added.

The UK government has said it was ready to help Flybe's workers find new jobs and that it will work with other airlines to replace services, stating, "We are working closely with industry to minimise any disruption to routes operated by Flybe, including by looking urgently at how routes not already covered by other airlines can be re-established by the industry.”