Coronavirus threat sparks Edinburgh Airport ‘crisis’ talks

Edinburgh Airport bosses have entered into emergency consultation talks with unions amid fears that passenger numbers will be slashed by the impact of coronavirus.
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All 750 directly employed staff have been told in meetings with managers that budgets need to be cut immediately.

Measures on the table include unpaid holidays and reduced working hours.

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It is hoped job losses will be avoided, however 100 jobs are at risk of redundancy.

Of the 750 staff, around 300 work in security, with airside operations, engineers and IT staff also affected by the move.

In total 7,500 people work on the wider airport campus or rely on the airport indirectly for employment.

Unite the union branded the problems facing the aviation industry as a “crisis”.

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An Airport insider said the move was necessary and based on modelling from elsewhere in the world which showed a drop-off in passenger traffic and profits.

They said: “We are expecting from modelling our passenger levels for the next few months to be next to zero.

“An airport can’t function with full staffing without passengers.”

The Airport pulled in just under 15 million passengers in 2019, but is expecting to see the number of people travelling plummet due to the spread of coronavirus.

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Staff members have been told today that emergency consultations will begin, with measures including three or four day weeks and unpaid leave up for consideration.

This is being done, the insider said, as a way of minimising losses but allowing the airport to be ready for a surge in demand following the worst of the outbreak.

They said: “We need to keep it functioning so that when people emerge from this, we can answer the demand.”

The demise of Flybe has hit also hit passenger numbers at the airport.

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A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport told the Edinburgh Evening News: “There is no denying that the Coronavirus situation is having an immediate and direct impact on our business and many others across Scotland and the rest of the world.

“As an airport we are facing an unprecedented situation, looking at the potential of three months of zero or close to zero passenger demand.

“We have spent the last few weeks looking at how we deal with the immediate and longer term effects and unfortunately that means taking some extremely tough decisions as the industry continues to react.

“This is not an easy process for anyone involved and it is one we wish we did not have to consider.

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“We will do all we can to protect our people who are at the heart airport and we will continue to communicate changes to our staff and will work with them to ensure the airport continues to operate as effectively as possible.”

Sandy Smart, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Hundreds of jobs are set to be lost at Edinburgh Airport in addition to the significant losses proposed by Swissport a few days ago. There is a crisis facing the civil aviation industry in Scotland.

“We call on all companies in Scottish airports from those who own them, the airlines who fly out of them and those companies in the supply chain dependent upon them to refrain from announcing wholesale redundancies.

“Unite fully understands the scale of this crisis and that’s why we repeat our call for the Scottish Government to initiate a task force with immediate effect for the civil aviation industry in order to bring forward contingency plans to enable Scottish airports to remain open and to keep the workforce in employment through this crisis.”