Discussion on slots ignores aviation workers’ main concerns

11 Jan 2021

European aviation is in dire straits, and the current discussion on airport slots is doing little to address aviation workers’ main concerns. The ETF believes that the European Commission’s “Slot Relief” proposal ignores the significant issue of job losses and the social consequences of this pandemic as well as a severe lack of sustainable and long-term job protection.

As we remain in the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission, workers, and employers need to continue to work in close collaboration to help the industry recover and protect jobs and working conditions. Unless long-term social sustainability is secured, a strong recovery is unlikely.

This pandemic cannot be another opportunity to dogmatically cut long-term labour costs as has been the issue in the past, and sustainable recovery must be reached through consensus of all stakeholders. While slots will be a prominent issue in this recovery, this debate misses the main issue at stake. It is our view that such discussions on slots are premature and do not address the real and concrete concerns of aviation workers,” said Eoin Coates, ETF Head of Aviation.

Member States’ aviation-specific support through 2020 was valuable, but it has not gone far enough in most cases. Support schemes have often overlooked workers and employers in ground handling and other less visible sectors of the industry. In the short term, the European Commission’s proposal is likely to increase traffic and protect some jobs, but given Eurocontrol’s most recent outlook for recovery being pushed to 2026, it is clear that support needs to be sustainable in the long-term and must support workers right across the industry.

The ETF calls on the Commission and employers to consider alternative proposals that focus specifically on the aviation sector’s social needs in the long-term, rather than merely increasing the level of traffic in Europe with no social or employment guarantees. Unlike previous proposals on slot regulations, these proposals must involve all partners, particularly social partners such as trade unions and NGOs.