Bailouts must not allow the aviation sector to return to business as usual after Covid-19 has been defeated: any public money has to ensure that workers and the climate are put first.
A petition to put people and climate first in any bail out packages for airlines has nearly attracted nearly 55,000 signatures.
The petition was launched by campaign groups Stay Grounded and Possible last week and has the support of some 250 organisations worldwide.
Airlines and the aviation industry have been lobbying for government support as most of their fleets are grounded due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, has said that the sector is entering the “danger zone”, and airlines face going bust without further support.
Last month, 38 MPs wrote to the chancellor asking for a specific support scheme for the sector, which they said employs 1.6 million UK people, and would be essential for the recovery of the wider UK economy once the crisis had passed.
But the campaigners want any public money used to help airlines to include conditions ensuring that workers are given a real living basic income during the crisis, and that the aviation industry cuts emissions in line with what is needed to keep temperature rise within 1.5°C.
Emissions reductions should be absolute and not allow offsets, nor rely on biofuels, they added. Airlines should be forced to pay taxes on kerosene, and air travel should be reduced, and alternatives such as rail travel made cheaper, they said.
They said: “Bailouts must not allow the aviation sector to return to business as usual after Covid-19 has been defeated: any public money has to ensure that workers and the climate are put first."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has so far resisted calls to support the industry, though EasyJet was last week granted a £600 million loan after it secured £400 million from commercial creditors.
Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.