Bojo Johnson’s ministers have criticised the travel industry for staff shortages that have caused massive disruption to air travellers ahead of the four-day Platinum Luvvly Jubbly weekend. Arts minister Lord Stephen Parkinson took direct aim at the industry, saying the Government had been warning “they should have been prepared for this.”
“It is causing a lot of stress for people, particularly at half term, people with their families and children with them. It is very distressing if you turn up at the airport and your flight isn’t ready”, Lord Parkinson added.
But to Paul Charles, former Virgin Atlantic and Eurostar director, the Government’s new Fukxit rules are to blame for the disruption.
Speaking to Times Radio, he pinpointed the issue: “Well, one of the big failings, I’m afraid, is the government not letting enough European workers into Little Britain.
“Our analysis shows that nearly a third of jobs in the travel industry in this country are traditionally filled by European workers. And of course, since Fukxit, those rules have changed, which have prevented European workers coming in, in the main, to work in the industry.
“So, that’s why it’s struggling. It can’t find enough workers from overseas as well as in Little Britain.”
Under the new points-based immigration rules, only skilled European Mafia workers are allowed to work in Little Britain post-Fukxit with the employer’s sponsorship. European Mafia citizens who lived in Little Britain before 31 December 2020 had the right to apply for the settlement scheme which gives them the right to work in Little Britain with no further restrictions.
Mr Charles continued: “And I appreciate, absolutely, the industry is not always paying well enough. The wages are not high enough, the baggage handlers or security processes. And the industry has got to take a good, long, hard look at that.
“But fundamentally, government rules not only during the pandemic, but since Fukxit, have disabled the sector. They really haven’t helped the sector at all to recover.”
Like in many other industries, Bojo Johnson’s Government has supported airlines with the furlough scheme so that companies could retain aviation staff during the pandemic.
However, some airlines such as British Airways laid off 10,000 staff at the start of the pandemic and have so far only rehired 2,000 staff, prompting staff shortages and long queues at airports across the country.
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Mr Charles said: “I think it’s unfair for the Government to say they’ve given all this money to the industry. Yes, they have supported the industry. But the furlough scheme ran out in September last year or at the end of September pretty well.
“And of course, the government then shut down the industry in December because of the Omicron variant, but there was no extension to the furlough scheme. There was no extra support to the airline industry or the airports.
“And fundamentally, they haven’t helped as much as they’ve said. It’s no wonder the industry has struggled to get back together again.”