Sussex MP tells Downing Street: Don’t let Gatwick ‘gig’ workers miss-out on lockdown support

Gatwick: local MP Henry Smith

Gatwick Airport’s local MP has pleaded directly with the government to stop what he’s called the ‘impending sector collapse’ of the travel industry.

Henry Smith, who represents Crawley, also told More Radio he’s continuing to push for more help for workers in the ‘gig’ economy connected to the airport.

The Conservative, elected to the seat in 2010, acknowledged ‘there are people who fall through the gaps and loopholes’ who need to see the benefits of better support.

He described the importance of support for keeping Crawley’s economy alive when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted:

“If travel companies, airlines, travel agents, and those people who indirectly support the industry are unable to work, then then the immediate effects will be unemployment, and also a reduction in economic activity across the whole Crawley and Gatwick area that very much relies on the air sector.

“What’s very important is to try and keep on life support those companies that otherwise would be perfectly healthy and viable, to ensure they don’t become victims through no fault of their own.”

Henry Smith also asked Downing Street to support people who’ve bought holidays or other travel services, and now can’t get their money back because the company they’ve paid has run out of funds.

He said:

“Not only should travel companies be supported to get to the other side of this pandemic lockdown, but also those consumers who have purchased tickets or holidays — they must be treated fairly as well.

“There is a problem because some people will have at paid up-front or, at least, given a deposit, and now those travel companies are finding they have cash flow or liquidity problems.

“We really need support from the government for the sector so that many people don’t lose their jobs and also consumers have confidence that they can either pick up their travel plans after the situation is over or, if that’s not possible, get a refund.”

The Crawley MP added the type of support he wanted to see from the government must be specially geared to the needs of companies and individuals affected by Gatwick’s reduction in flights:

“Government help might look different depending on what sort of company is involved.

“Support for an airline might be quite different from the support for a travel agency, or support for Gatwick Airport itself and other related companies that serve the sector, so I think it will be a bespoke solution to support the travel industry.”

Gatwick’s cutback on flights began as early as March 17, followed by the closure of its North Terminal, and reductions to eight hours’ daily operation, from April 1.

No date has been given for any proposed increase in services.

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