Edinburgh-based John Menzies aviation calls for urgent government support

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The company furloughed 17,500 jobs last week.

Aviation services company John Menzies, based in Edinburgh, has called for urgent government support for UK airport infrastructure to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The company, which handles ground handling, cargo handling, cargo forwarding and fuelling, last week announced it had furloughed 17,500 jobs worldwide, more than half of its 30,000 headcount.

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Now it has joined three other firms which manage ground operations at UK airports to plead for urgent help from the government.

John Menzies has warned it is close to collapseJohn Menzies has warned it is close to collapse
John Menzies has warned it is close to collapse

In a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak, John Menzies, Swissport, WFS and Dnata argue that the Covid-19 pandemic is different to any global disaster they have previously faced.

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The four companies provide 90 percent of aviation services across the UK, and they warn that without them the country’s airport infrastructures ‘would grind to a halt within months’.

“We have all been able to weather previous crises, whether 9/11, Sars or the Icelandic volcanic eruption, but Covid-19 is different, as it is both global and longer-term,” they said.

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John Menzies has seen international and domestic airline customers cut flights on an ‘unprecedented’ scale, the firm announced last week.

Chief executive Giles Wilson said he looked to the UK government to support the business and the aviation sector as a whole.

“For the aviation supply chain to function it requires a strong inter-reliant chain of airlines, airports and service providers. Without these three components of the supply chain, working together, the sector will not function,” he said.

“Handlers such as Menzies are therefore essential to the recovery and future success of the UK and global aviation industry.”

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Earlier this month the company revealed a pre-tax profit of £17.3 million in 2019, down from £21.6 million the previous year.

Founded in 1833, John Menzies is one of Scotland’s oldest companies.

Originally opened as a bookshop, the company was once known for its high street stores and distribution of newspapers around the UK, before moving into the transport sector and then transitioning to aviation only.

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