RYANAIR is to cut 3,000 jobs representing 15% of its workforce, it was announced yesterday.
British Airways is to cut up to 12,000 jobs and said it may never reopen operations at Gatwick even after the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end.
Billionaire Richard Branson has demanded taxpayers cough up half a billion to bailout Virgin Atlantic before the end of May or the airline will fold.
However, in the last month Branson has moved $1.1 billion of assets from the US to the British Virgin Islands, his stake in Virgin Galactic. Brazen Branson moves his assets to a tax haven and then calls for the UK taxpayer to bail out Virgin Atlantic!
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said not only are 3,000 jobs to be cut, there will be pay cuts of up to 20% for remaining staff. For workers whose holidays have been cancelled by the virus, he said it will take up to six months to refund passengers for cancelled flights. He claimed the airline was ‘struggling to process a backlog of 25 million refunds with reduced staff’.
British Airways is equally ruthless. In the letter to pilots, BA said that a quarter of BA’s 4,300 pilots are set to lose their jobs. The letter from senior management callously states: ‘We need to ensure that our remaining operation is efficient, flexible and cost-competitive to enable us to survive in an increasingly lean and unpredictable industry.’
The entire aviation industry is falling headfirst into the abyss, with tens of thousands of workers’ jobs on the line. Across Europe, the situation is as bad if not worse.
Airbus has posted a 49 per cent slump in the first quarter as revenue dropped 15 per cent. Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury described the situation as the ‘gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known’.
Scandinavian airline SAS last week said it is reducing its workforce by up to 5,000 during the coronavirus outbreak. Rival Norwegian Air warned it will run out of cash by mid-May and last week said 4,700 staff would lose their jobs after four Swedish and Danish units filed for bankruptcy.
The entire aviation sector is in freefall. The coronavirus was the trigger that exposed the underlying bankruptcy of the industry, run under a capitalist system which is itself in free fall. And of course the capitalist law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest, or, more to the point, survival of the richest, rules supreme.
Baggage handlers, airport cleaners, security staff, pilots, crew and administrators have all been thrown to the wolves as the big airline bosses attempt to save their own skins.
On the Ryanair jobs shock, pilots’ union BALPA’s leader Brian Strutton appealed to the Tories: ‘Aviation workers are now facing a tsunami of job losses. The UK government has to stop daydreaming and keep to the promise made by the Chancellor on 17 March to help airlines, or this industry, vital to the UK economy, will be devastated.’
Unite national officer for aviation, Oliver Richardson, said: ‘If the government fails to provide such assistance, which is already being offered by other European countries to their airlines, then the UK aviation sector faces a very bleak future.’
The unions are proposing that ownership of the airlines remain under the control of the big bosses while workers’ taxes should cover their losses and ensure their profits!
Why should the British taxpayer use a single penny to bail out the big capitalist cutthroat bosses like Virgin’s Richard Branson, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, or BA’s Alex Cruz?
There is only one way forward. The entire aviation industry must be nationalised, and the big bosses unceremoniously kicked out of the industry without a penny compensation.
It must be nationalised under workers’ control, and then workers’ management, as part of a national economic plan to take the whole of society forward.
All profits will then be reinvested to ensure that the airplanes are made safe, that all workers are given a decent wage and that any profits go into other public services to help fund health, education and housing. There must be an end to the capitalist ‘law of the jungle!’ The working class must take the power, overthrow capitalism and pave the way to go forward to socialism.