Dozens of Fife aviation workers based at Edinburgh Airport are among more than 300 employees facing the sack, The Courier understands.
Menzies Aviation, which provides baggage handling and other services at both Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports, has entered a 45-day consultation period with 318 staff.
The company said the decision was taken with “great sadness” but it had “no choice” as air travel is not forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels in the near future.
Unions say their members are “frustrated and angry” over the move, which comes just days after The Courier highlighted serious concerns for the future of the sector amid claims workers have felt mistreated by management and let down by the UK Government.
A significant proportion of the 150 posts expected to go at Edinburgh are thought to be employees who live in Fife and commute over the Forth, while 160 roles are due to be lost at Glasgow Airport.
The planned redundancies at Scotland’s largest airports comes despite the company publicly calling for an extension in the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme (JRS) to avert mass job losses.
Unite regional industrial officer Sandy Smart described the decision to cut staff as a “bitter” blow that could have been avoided.
“Unite has repeatedly tried to get Menzies Aviation to engage with us and to keep using the UK Government job retention scheme but our appeals have been ignored.
“Instead, the company are intent on making these redundancies while the scheme remains in operation.
“It’s not dramatic to say that the wider situation facing Edinburgh Airport is a perilous one and that’s why Unite is repeating our call for the Scottish and UK Governments to bring forward urgent measures or we fear the civil aviation industry faces collapse.”
Unite, the country’s leading aviation trade union, has warned unless the Scottish and UK Governments bring forward stabilising and supportive measures for the sector both airports, and others in Scotland, could be on the brink of collapse.
It argues sector-specific support should include a tapered approach to the end of the job retention scheme, which would offer the flexibility to save as many jobs as returning revenues can sustain, with employers required to top up payments as the government reduces its funding.
Giles Wilson, Menzies chief executive officer, said: “It is with great sadness we have taken the difficult decision to enter into consultation with our employees and unions to reduce the size of our airport teams in the UK and Ireland.
“This has been the most challenging period the UK aviation sector has ever seen and whilst a small number of flights have started operating again, we do not expect volumes to return to pre-Covid 19 levels in the near future.
“We’re left with no choice therefore but to take action to match our workforce to the volumes we anticipate through the winter and well into 2021, to ensure Menzies is sustainable now and fit for the future.
“We recognise the significant impact this will have on our colleagues who will be leaving us and throughout this process we’ll do everything we can to minimise the number of job losses across the network.”
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