More than 300 staff at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports face losing their jobs as Menzies Aviation begin redundancy talks sparked by the COVID-19 crisis.

Menzies, who provide baggage handling and other ground handling services at both airports have begun the 45-day consultation period with 318 staff (around 160 of the workers are based at Glasgow and 150 at Edinburgh). It said the decision was taken with “great sadness” but that it had “no choice” as air travel is not forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels in the near future.

The trade union Unite has slammed the decision. A statement from the union expressed its frustration at the redundancies, especially as the company publicly called for an extension in the UK government’s job retention scheme to avert mass job losses.

Pat McIlvogue, a representative for Unite, said: “We are deeply frustrated and angry that despite the company calling for the job retention scheme to be extended so that job losses could be avoided they have still forged ahead with this announcement. Unite fully understands the situation facing the civil aviation industry, which is why we have been calling for a coordinated response so that we can safeguard thousands of Scottish jobs. However, let us be clear, these job losses do not need to happen and this is a deliberate choice by Menzies Aviation to slash its workforce.”

Another representative, Sandy Smart, added: “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.”

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