Travel industry worker calls for a 'clear road map'
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According to the British Airline Pilots Association, the UK aviation sector is the hardest hit in Europe due to the ongoing restrictions on international travel. An airline pilot now working as a Tesco delivery driver said that “all of this is far from over” and resented the Government’s lack of support.
The International Air Transport Association reported 860,000 jobs in the UK travel industry have been lost or are on furlough and are at risk of being lost.
Recent data also showed that London Gatwick is the worst affected airport in Europe.
Last year, pilots and crew that lost their wings had to look for other sources of income and many found themselves drastically changing careers.
A former pilot based in Gatwick told Express.co.uk what he had to do to survive the worst crisis the aviation industry has ever seen.
The first officer, who had been flying the skies for more than five years, revealed that his life has changed “massively” since the first travel restrictions were imposed last year.
“We’ve moved back to Aberdeen and the main reason for this is the cost is living is less than half of what it was near Gatwick. My pilot training loan is paused for now since as I don’t earn enough to pay it back at the moment.”
After being made redundant last year, he decided to take one of the only jobs that were available: supermarket delivery driver.
“I wasn’t expecting this to happen and especially not this soon into my flying career.”
He explained that he decided to become a supermarket delivery driver “to help people instead of just sitting at home on furlough” but admitted customers are “very surprised” when they find out a pilot is delivering their groceries.
“Most people can’t believe that a pilot is doing a job like this. I’ve had some great conversations with customers that have a pilot in the family in a similar position.”
In the last weeks, UK airlines have been calling for the Government to ease travel restrictions and to allow international travel to return.
The former first officer said that his situation, and the situation of more than 800,000 aviation workers that lost their jobs, “could have been very different if the Government actually assisted the aviation industry.”
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“Like they did with the hospitality industry with the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, for example.”
Due to the ongoing UK travel restrictions, the first officer is not too optimistic about an imminent recovery of the aviation industry.
“The current travel restrictions just made me realise that all of this is far from over.
“And that the aviation industry will be quite uncertain for a while when looking at how quickly the restrictions can change and airlines reacting to this.”
“I think that even if they opened now there initially wouldn’t be the same amount of flights as before COVID, I think people are very weary with the Government changing border restrictions all the time,” he explained.
For the former pilot, the future doesn’t look promising: “I feel it will take a couple of years before I’ll be back flying a commercial plane.
“I have taken up flying small single engine airplanes again so I can do that for now.”
The UK has reported a dramatic drop in arrivals and departures flights, registering a fall of 73 percent, the highest in Europe to date.
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