Swissport’s British operation was able to keep its employees employed through the country’s furlough program, which helped companies hit by epidemics to pay wages of up to 80 percent. But that government subsidy was scheduled to end on 31 October, prompting Swissport to offer a layoff package. About 950 workers accepted him, including Tracy Moore. (In November, the government extended the furlough through March.)
“The problem is, we all know the business will take years to recover; It is not going to end in 12 months, ”Mr. Wirth said. Swissport’s income is a direct reflection of the amount of air travel. Airlines do not agree to any minimum level of expenses with the company. The flexibility the company offered to airlines suddenly became a curse – as the flights disappeared from the schedule, so did Swissport. By the time demand for flights starts, Swissport will be a much smaller company, Mr. Wirth said. It has already hired around 3,250 employees in the UK, with 40 per cent of its workforce.
Swissport rivals have also been forced to reduce staffing, including some activists who have spent decades behind the scenes at airports.
Leonardo Aquaro is one of the casualties. In 2003, at the age of 23, he started working at London’s Heathrow Airport at the airline’s check-in and ticket desk. Most recently, Mr. Aquoro was an operations controller for Manzies Aviation, which manages the dispatchers of aircraft that maneuver the aircraft to the airport. In March, he fainted, then in September, was laid off. He does not think he will ever return to the industry.
“Not much at the moment, even if you have a lot of experience,” he said. And he says the industry has changed: demands for cost cuts have increased staffing and poor contracts. Instead, he is studying online marketing and web design and spending more time with his son, 7, and baby daughter.
Four years ago, Eagle Couriers, a Scotland-based corporate delivery service, decided to diversify the business of returning lost luggage to passengers, known as baggage repatriation. It acquired THS Couriers, a creditor of Virgin Atlantic.