Henry Smith MP has led calls from West Sussex Members of Parliament in a letter to the Prime Minister urging the Government to provide support for the aviation sector affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
With Gatwick Airport in the Crawley constituency boundary, and its impact reaching throughout West Sussex and further afield, the MPs have made a joint approach calling for Government support for this industry.
“Crawley and West Sussex are proud to be the home of Gatwick Airport, and we recognise the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the aviation and travel sectors.
“While Government action such as the creation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the strengthening of Universal Credit are welcome, further support will be needed if we’re to see a return in the years ahead to the economic success our area has enjoyed in recent times.
“Crawley is one of the economic powerhouses of our region, with its impact being felt right across the south east of England.
“The knock-on effects of COVID-19 go far beyond affecting any one community, the aviation sector affects people throughout West Sussex. We’re calling for support for the sector as this issue affects all those other airport workers including security staff, baggage handlers, and employees at the countless shops and restaurants no longer operating.
“With the right support, they’ll be able to go back to work, we’ll see customers boarding planes again, and Gatwick can return to its rightful place as West Sussex’s gateway to the world.”
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the Crawley economy had grown by 23 per cent from 2013 to 2020; the highest in West Sussex, contributing over a quarter of the county’s economic output, despite being just two per cent of the landmass.
This letter has been signed by all West Sussex Members of Parliament who are not serving Government ministers.
Note to Editors:
Full text of the letter:
Dear Prime Minister
Urgent COVID-19 support for the aviation sector
As Members of Parliament for constituencies in West Sussex we are writing to urge the Government to support this county’s economy through specific aviation sector assistance.
Our county is the home of Gatwick Airport, which has been severely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We welcome the unprecedented support which has already been provided at this time such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the range of grants and loans which are available to businesses, as well as the strengthening of Universal Credit.
This support is welcome, however further assistance from Government will be necessary if the economic success we have seen over the last decade is to return in the years ahead, not just for our local communities but UK-wide, as a global, island trading nation competing with our European neighbours.
Any support should be on a company-by-company basis. We recognise that any loans would need to be paid back to ensure protection for taxpayers.
Employees from West Sussex and further afield travel to work at Gatwick Airport and related businesses every day. Without specific assistance for the aviation sector, there is a danger that many will not have jobs to return to when this crisis is over.
Crawley, for example, is one of the economic powerhouses of the south east of England. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the Crawley economy had grown by 23 per cent from 2013 to 2020; the highest in West Sussex, contributing over a quarter of the county’s economic output, despite being just two per cent of the landmass.
Support for this industry is about more than those brands and personalities which are household names. The knock-on effects of COVID-19 go far beyond affecting any one community, the aviation sector affects the people in each of our parliamentary constituencies.
We write not just on behalf of airline employees, but other airport workers in the area including security staff, baggage handlers, and workers at the countless shops and restaurants no longer operating.
Together we are asking for your support for this sector so that one day they can go back to work, customers can board planes again, and Gatwick can return to its rightful place as West Sussex’s gateway to the world.
Member of Parliament for Crawley
Sir Peter Bottomley
Member of Parliament for Worthing West
Member of Parliament for Arundel & South Downs
Member of Parliament for East Worthing & Shoreham