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Airport communities - call for support under the WLA Build and Recover plan

Call to support airport communities in crisis

People living in west London have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, not least because of its impact on Heathrow Airport. An action plan has been put forward by local councils – and, meanwhile, a 13-week job training course for airline workers has also just become available.

The damage to the airline industry directly affects our communities because so many people either work at the airport, or work for businesses that supply the airlines and airport. The government expects aviation to be one of a handful of sectors not ‘bouncing back’ post-lockdown.

Oxford Economics has modelled the impact of reduced activity at Heathrow and predicts 24% of jobs there will be lost by 2021 – mainly in transport and logistics; but also in accommodation, food, manufacturing and administration roles.

Correspondingly, the three boroughs closest to the airport are in the top four London boroughs worst hit economically so far: Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing are second, third and fourth on that list respectively.

This September, an extra 77,500 people in west London claimed benefits compared to last September. And, as of July, there were more than 363,000 people on furlough in west London. 

Ealing Council is part of a partnership of local authorities called the West London Alliance. It has come together to suggest a package of measures to help tackle this growing jobs crisis.


Councillor Kamaljit Dhindsa, the council’s cabinet member for business and community services, said: “We have joined together with the other west London boroughs to drive economic recovery and support our residents and businesses with new skills and opportunities. As part of the West London Alliance, we have set out a plan called Build and Recover and are pressing the government for the financial support we need to make it a reality.”

In the plan, the WLA calls the impact on aviation communities ‘devastating’ and calls for a response to be put together similar to the packages used to help communities affected by closures of a steel mill or car plant.

This includes the idea of an Aviation Communities Fund – public investment to support skills and employment in west London. It is suggested that a small levy on flights in and out of Heathrow could be one way of eventually paying into this fund.

It also asks for investment in new infrastructure and in skills programmes, support for ‘green’ industries and training local people to work in them, and more help for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs.

You can read the full report at the WLA website.

If you want to support the aviation communities, register to attend the Aviation Communities Summit 2020 on 24 November from 2pm to 4pm, organised by Hounslow Council and West London Alliance.


Former Heathrow aviation workers are being offered a chance to transfer their skills into the film, TV and games industry.

ScreenSkills, in partnership with Pinewood Studios and Buckinghamshire local enterprise partnerships, is offering a 13-week training programme for people to learn how their expertise in aviation can be used in the screen industries.

Find out more at a free introductory online event with speakers from the industry on Wednesday, 25 November between 11am to 12pm.

To register, you can request a referral from Jobcentre Plus or via your employer/former employer. Alternatively, send an email to this email address and you will be referred to a booking form.


Employers – visit the dedicated coronavirus support pages on the council’s website for more ways to seek help.

Residents – see the same coronavirus support pages – but also check what the council’s work support offers you if you are looking for employment or training.

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