Our communities around Britain’s airports are being devastated | Steve Curran and Henry Smith

Our communities around Britain's airports are being devastated | Steve Curran and Henry Smith

Everywhere in Britain the financial and social impact of Covid-19 is being felt. Up and down the land, whole industries have been affected and businesses, large and small, have been forced to close.

Hardest hit, though, have been the communities located around airports – those areas that provide the workers for their local airport, that rely on the terminals, the hangars and the economy that has grown up around it, for jobs and prosperity. At a stroke, with the onset of the pandemic and the collapse worldwide in air travel, that vital connection has been severely reduced.

Since then, it’s worsened. There’s little prospect of aviation returning to anything like its previous levels, not even with the advent of a vaccine, not in the short term. The damage may well prove to be permanent.

The immediate effects have been devastating. Our two communities, Hounslow in west London and Crawley in Sussex, have the awful distinction of heading the national league tables for numbers of furloughed and unemployed workers.

In Hounslow, next to Heathrow, and Crawley near Gatwick, 40% of our workforces were being supported by the state at the end of the summer. This number is likely to worsen. It is similar for parts of Birmingham, Essex, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Teesside, Newcastle and Glasgow and the other districts where concentrations of airport workers live.

Each day brings news of further aviation redundancies and closures. In all, 733,000 jobs in, and connected to, Britain’s international and regional airports, are at risk from a prolonged downturn in air traffic.…

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