Baggage handling company begins laying off staff at Edinburgh Airport following collapse of Flybe

Swissport said in a statement that they had to “make difficult and immediate adjustments to resize its operations”

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 7:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 7:54 am

One of the world’s leading ground services companies has begun laying off staff at Edinburgh Airport following the collapse of airline Flybe.

A former employee of Swissport contacted the Evening News after he received a letter stating his employment was coming to end after the collapse of the budget airline earlier this month.

The letter, which was sent to staff on March 7, states that after Flybe went under, the business had to “make difficult and immediate adjustments to resize its operations”, with the former employee claiming that a dip in bookings due to coronavirus fears could have an impact on future job prospects.

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A former employee of Swissport contacted the Evening News after he received a letter stating his employment was coming to end

He told the Evening News: "The people I work with are kind of like a second family, we all work shifts and a lot of people are your friends. A lot of them have got kids and commitments.

"The way they were laying people off was strange. They are picking people who have been there for years, people who are just in the door and also people who have just had their training."

The company 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.

Letter sent to staff

Swissport said in a statement that they had to “make difficult and immediate adjustments to resize its operations”

At this time, it is unknown how many staff have received the letter, which states that employment will be terminated on March 10, for an initial 14 day unpaid period.

The letter says: “Following the announcement on 5th March that Flybe has entered into administration, Swissport will need to make difficult and immediate adjustments to resize its operations.

“As a result, we regret to inform you that you will be laid off with immediate effect due to your alignment to the Flybe product This measure has been taken to enable the business to assess the full impact of the situation and its requirements going forward. The date for your lay off begins on 10th March 2020 and will be for an initial period of 14 days.

“I must also inform you that the period of lay off will be unpaid, this however, does not affect your right to the statutory guaranteed payment.

“We understand that this is an extremely difficult period of worry and uncertainty for you. Should you have any questions please speak to your HR team or your line manager.

“We appreciate your cooperation and support and we will provide you with an update within the next 14 days.”

The former employee also told of his fears that a rise in concerns over travelling following the global coronavirus outbreak could hamper his chances of long-term employment in the future, despite having gained work with a rival ground handling company at Edinburgh Airport.

A spokesperson for Swissport said: “Flybe’s unfortunate news has come at a very challenging time for the industry. As a business, we have a responsibility to carefully consider the impact this has on our company and identify the best outcome for all our employees and partners across the business. Discussions with members of the Swissport team at Edinburgh Airport are ongoing so we cannot comment further at this time.”An Edinburgh Airport spokesperson said that they do not comment on the activity of other companies within the airport.

Flybe collapse

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.”

Coronavirus fears

A further 40 will removed by British Airways from its Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to London routes by the end of next week.

Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines and SAS have also announced cuts from Scotland.

Easyjet, Jet2 and Ryanair said their Italian flights would be halted between Edinburgh and Bergamo, Bologna, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Treviso, Turin, Venice and Verona.

The number of cases in the UK increased by 54 to 373 on Tuesday, according to Department of Health and Social Care figures, and the sixth death was confirmed after West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said a man in his early 80s with underlying health conditions had died.

Scotland now has 27 confirmed cases, with seven in the Lothian region.