Covid-19: Labour MP Virendra Sharma leads campaign to save Heathrow jobs
Senior Labour MP Virendra Sharma and over 25 other MPs have written to UK’s chancellor Rishi Sunak to support airports such as Heathrow, where tens of thousands of employees face redundancy due to steep fall in business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Heathrow has historically employed a large number of Indian-origin people, who over the years took up residence in nearby London suburbs such as Southall. Many of them face job losses with the aviation industry suffering a major hit.
Sharma, who is MP for Ealing Southall, said: “Thousands face being made redundant because of falls in revenue for many businesses and certain industries almost completely drying up. Aviation is one of the hardest hit, almost no long haul routes are open and passenger numbers are down to tiny fractions compared to the start of the year.”
The MPs wrote to Sunak that airports in England and Wales are expected to pay business rates as though they are functioning normally. Airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland have received support from their local governments, but those in England and Wales have not had such relief.
The MPs wrote to the chancellor: “Under the current system while a business such as Tesco which has seen growth during Covid-19 has received £585 million in business rate relief, our airports have seen not a penny”.
“We call on you to provide support to all English and Welsh airports in line with that afforded by Scotland and Northern Ireland. This will allow airports to continue to employ people, pay other taxes and support the Covid recovery we all so badly need”.
Passenger numbers have fallen by 99% in some cases and more than 100,000 in the industry are facing the risk of unemployment. The aviation industry lost nearly £2 billion in the four-month period between March and June, which is equivalent to around £15 million each day, Sharma noted.