Aerospace manufacturing in the UK has faced an unprecedented struggle this quarter. With travel still on hold in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers across the country reported only 13 orders - a period in which 152 orders were placed just last year.
The trade union Unite estimates - based on required notices of possible redundancies - that at least 12,000 jobs are at risk or already lost within an industry that employs 111,000.
Both large manufacturers, such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce, and smaller companies down the supply chain are likely to be affected, with some irreversibly so - an unfortunate example is Somerset’s Tods Aerospace, which fell into administration in June after 88 years in business.
The issue is that the industries which are regular customers of aerospace manufacture, travel and defence, are overall hesitant to buy during this uncertain time. Mark Tami, the Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside (where the Airbus factory is located), has recommended that pandemic aid for businesses take inspiration from the “tiered approach” devised for general public health measures, concentrating on the most vulnerable workers in the hardest-hit industries. Unite national officer Rhys McCarthey urged the UK to match the aerospace industry bailouts that have already occurred in Germany and France.
Industry lobbyists have joined workers in calling for a bailout, saying that clients of the UK aerospace industry are running down their resources and will soon be buying again. It will fall to public policy to ensure that these companies weather the storm.