Scots jobs under threat as handler to axe 4500 airport roles

Swissport to cut more than half its workforce, with a number of Scottish airports likely to be affected.

Jobs at Scottish airports are under threat after a ground-handling firm announced huge cuts.

Swissport, which has bases at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen airports, told staff on Wednesday that up to 4556 jobs could be cut.

The number represents more than half its UK workforce and Unite Scotland fear the decision puts more than 800 Scottish roles at risk.

Although the final details on the job losses effecting each airport have not been released, Unite say that up to 70 jobs could be lost in Aberdeen, up to 300 jobs at Edinburgh and 440 at Glasgow Airport.

The union, who represent Swissport workers, described the news as ‘absolutely devastating’.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “We are now witnessing the domino effect cascading throughout the civil aviation industry from cabin crew to airport workers through to baggage handlers and security staff.

“The industry is so integrated that if one domino falls – they all do. It’s an imperative that the Scottish and UK Governments bring forward a tailored supportive package for the industry because if we don’t then thousands of jobs will be lost and when we come out of lockdown there will be no workers in any major Scottish airports left to support the industry getting back off the ground.”

A worker at Glasgow Airport, who wished to remain anonymous, told STV News he and his colleagues found out about the redundancies from a tweet and a report on the news.

He said: “It’s not the way you want to find out your company is cutting half its workforce.

“Working at Glasgow is a unique job with many, many wonderful people.

“The place will never be the same again after Covid-19.”

Swissport Chief executive Jason Holt said the company had to reduce the size of its workforce to survive, due to the collapse in air travel.

Mr Holt told staff: “We must do this to secure the lifeline of funding from lenders and investors to protect as many jobs as possible in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“It’s true that we’ve seen tough times before – volcanic cloud, 9/11, the financial crisis – and we’ve weathered these. But this time it’s different. We have never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetimes.”

Swissport – which also operates at Heathrow and Gatwick – employs 8500 workers at airports, including baggage handlers and check-in staff.

Unions said the announcement was “devastating” news, especially for regional economies, and highlighted their call for the UK Government to offer help to the aviation industry.

Nadine Houghton, national officer of the GMB, said: “With Swissport now considering job cuts on this scale we have deep concerns about the viability of many of our regional airports and the benefits for regional connectivity that they bring.”

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