Overturn airport jobs crisis with a Green New Deal for Gatwick

There is great concern around many airports, about the number of people who have lost their jobs, or will lose them in coming months. A new report by 3 organisations, the PCS trade union, Green New Deal UK, and the Green House Think Tank shows how new jobs could be created in the Gatwick area, for those now unemployed. Their analysis indicates that around 16,000 “green” jobs could be created around Gatwick if an ambitious job creation strategy was adopted. And they calculate that the cost would be comparable to the amount of APD that Gatwick air passengers might pay in 2021 – around £329 million (calculated as the proportion of all UK air passengers that go via Gatwick – about 15.6% in 2019). This number has been chosen, as the airlines (through Airlines UK) have been lobbying to have APD suspended for a year in 2021; if that happened, it might mean a loss to the Treasury of around £2.1 billion. The £329 million (approx) would be able to fund perhaps x13 as many “green” jobs (such as building retrofits, low-energy transport, restoring nature, and social care) as would be secured in the aviation sector. And these jobs would help avoid the excessive vulnerability of the Gatwick area of being too dependent on aviation.


Overturn airport jobs crisis with a Green New Deal for Gatwick


The full report:

A Green New Deal for Gatwick   – An urgent call for jobs investment in response to Covid-19

November 2020


By Tahir Latif, PCS; Fatima Ibrahim, Green New Deal UK; Jonathan Essex, Green House Think Tank

New analysis shows that 16,000 green jobs could be created around Gatwick if an ambitious job creation strategy were adopted to counter the current and future loss of jobs dependent on the airport.

The research, a collaboration between the PCS union, Green House Think Tank and Green New Deal UK, shows the cost would be comparable to Gatwick’s share of the proposed scrapping of Air Passenger Duty for the next 12 months, despite funding 13 times the number of jobs locally.

It shows a close fit between the skills required for this transition to a zero carbon economy and those of aviation workers whose livelihoods have been put at risk – such as pilots, cabin crew and baggage handlers. Critically however, it also demonstrates the importance of a worker-led retraining and investment plan.

Almost 5,000 jobs in building retrofits are needed to help the ‘Gatwick Diamond’ region [1] decarbonise rapidly, warming homes and reducing bills at the same time. A further 1,300 are needed to transition to sustainable ground transport and 820 to restore nature. 7,900 are needed to improve the quality of social care.

The annual investment required to create and sustain secure and good quality jobs of this number (between £287m – £532m), would be significantly more than existing Government support for local economic recovery and job creation, such as the £19m for the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership through the Getting Building Fund, and the £25m available to Crawley through the Towns Fund.

Yet it would be comparable to Gatwick’s share of the cost of scrapping Air Passenger Duty for the next 12 months (£329m) – despite creating 13 times as many jobs.[2]   [In 2019 Gatwick had around 46.6 million passengers, out of 297 million total UK air passengers ie about 15.6% of the total.  See link.  The estimated APD that the Airlines UK report, see below, for next year is around £2.1 billion.   And 15.6% of £2.1 bn comes to around £329.  AW comment].

As well as job creation to support livelihoods, the investment would carry a stream of co-benefits including warmer, more energy efficient homes, better quality care services, an improved local environment and diversified local economies.

Tahir Latif, PCS Aviation Group President, said:

“This report exposes both the false hope of getting straight back on Gatwick’s growth train, and the doomsday view that “there is no work”.

Covid-19 has brought Gatwick and the aviation industry to a crucial tipping point much sooner than would have been the case otherwise, and there’s no going back. But while trade unions representing workers associated with the airport must continue to fight for job protection and retention, there is a huge amount of work to be done elsewhere in the regional economy.

For well under half the annual tax break the Government gives to Gatwick, it could set the whole surrounding area on a zero carbon trajectory and create thousands of secure, fulfilling jobs in the process.”

Fatima Ibrahim, Co-Director of Green New Deal UK said:

“The jobs crisis around Gatwick airport is a microcosm of both the challenges and opportunities that the economic impact of Covid-19 is bringing to the fore. The Government talks a good game on job creation and green stimulus, but the allocated funding is nowhere near what is required to tackle unemployment or the climate crisis.

This report shows the scale of investment required – and the benefits that can be reaped, from a secure future for workers to lower pollution and stronger local economies.

With Gatwick itself projecting that passenger numbers will not recover for many years, changing business practices globally, and 30% of the public indicating they intend to fly less after the pandemic, astronomical growth projections can no longer be depended upon. In an industry where just 1% of the population cause over 50% of emissions, continuing that dependence is neither sustainable nor fair. Gatwick needs a Green New Deal.”

Cllr Jonathan Essex of Green House Think Tank said:

“We need to shift from growing Gatwick Airport and the carbon emissions associated with air travel to growing the employment needed to create local economies that are stronger, more resilient and zero carbon.

Creating the range of new jobs needed, from delivering an energy makeover of all homes and scaling-up public transport, to better caring for our most vulnerable as well as nature, will provide new opportunities for those who have recently lost their jobs or on long-term furlough.

A Green New Deal for Gatwick would deploy the skills and expertise of local people, and cost far less public investment than recent aviation tax breaks and bailouts.”

The full report is available at  https://www.greennewdealuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Green-New-Deal-for-Gatwick.pdf



Tahir Latif, PCS: 023 9264 6868

Fatima Ibrahim, Green New Deal UK: 07572 122 892

Jonathan Essex, Green House Think Tank: 07801 541 924


Notes for editors

[1] The ‘Gatwick Diamond’ is the region that surrounds seven local councils in East Surrey and West Sussex with the airport “at its heart” according to the business-led Gatwick Diamond initiative. The council areas covered are: Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge, Epsom & Ewell, West Sussex, Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex.

[2] ‘A Green New Deal for Gatwick’ found jobs potential of 16,100 compared to the APD cut’s 8,000 jobs across the UK, according to analysis commissioned by Airlines UK. The 8,000 national figure is scaled down on a per airport passenger basis to 1,255 jobs for Gatwick.

Source: Airlines UK (July 2020) Emergency Air Passenger Duty waiver would save 45% of lost air routes and save 8,000 jobs, study concludes. https://airlinesuk.org/emergency-air-passenger-duty-waiver-would-save-45-of-lost-air-routes-and-save-8000-jobs-study-concludes/

The Airlines UK report (July 2020)  Page 1 says:

“In normal times APD revenue for the Government is around £3.7 billion each year1 . Based on our estimates of baseline passenger demand over the next 12 months, we estimate that APD revenue will fall dramatically to around £2.1 billion. This would, by extension, be the cost to the Government of a 12 month APD waiver.”

1 = Office for Budget Responsibility 2020. Accessed at  https://obr.uk/forecasts-in-depth/tax-by-tax-spend-by-spend/air-passengerduty/