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Calls to block aviation bailouts on environmental grounds

Calls to block aviation bailouts on environmental grounds

More than 250 organisations from 25 countries have published an open letter directed to governments, urging them to refrain from “unfair” bailouts of the aviation industry on environmental grounds.

Instead, governments are implored to use this moment to embed social and environmental conditions, with enhanced protection for workers and a planned transition towards what the group calls “climate-just mobility”.

“For decades, the aviation industry has avoided contributing meaningfully to global climate goals and resisted the merest suggestion of taxes on fuel or tickets.

“Now, airlines, airports and manufacturers are demanding huge and unconditional taxpayer-backed bailouts.

“We cannot let the aviation industry get away with privatising profits in the good times, and expect the public to pay for its losses in the bad times,” said Magdalena Heuwieser from Stay Grounded, a global network of more than 150 organisations.

The letter demands that governments:

  • Put people first and bail out workers, not shareholders and executives.
  • Transform the transport sector in a climate-friendly way, by cutting air travel demand and strengthening low-carbon alternatives like rail travel, as well as by shifting of employment into decent climate jobs.
  • End aviation “tax exemptions” while putting in place a kerosene tax and fair progressive levies on frequent flying.

Stay Grounded claims aviation is responsible for five-to-eight per cent of climate heating worldwide.


Tahir Latif from the UK trade union PCS which also represents workers in the aviation sector added: “The collapse of the aviation industry has left workers feeling vulnerable and insecure about their future.

“PCS and other trade unions are demanding that financial, labour and health protections are directed to aid workers.

“A real living basic income to enable workers to see through the crisis has to be prioritised above corporate bailouts.

“We demand public ownership of our transport systems to enable a more humane and coherent response in the case of any similar crisis in the future, and to commence right now the task of planning the just transition of workers to jobs geared toward dealing the impact of transport, particularly aviation, on climate change.”

The letter comes as easyJet confirms £600 million in government funding from the Covid Corporate Financing Facility.

Image: Christian Bock