MIAMI – Ground handling company Swissport announced in an internal letter it was planning to cut 4,556 jobs, which is over half of its UK workforce of 8,500.

Swissport is the world’s largest airport ground and baggage service provider, with operations at 300 airports in 47 countries.

The company has been under pressure ever since the collapse of low-cost UK operator Flybe (BE), which decreased both demand and traffic to smaller UK airports.


Cuts to secure funding

Before the crisis, Swissport employed 64,000 workers worldwide, but Swissport UK’s revenues were down 75% in May. CEO Jason Holt said in a memo to employees the cuts were necessary to “secure the lifeline of funding from lenders and investors.”

These large cuts raised concerns about local economy. Nadine Houghton, national officer at the GMB, says “With Swissport now considering job cuts on this scale, we have deep concerns about the viability of many of our regional airports and the benefits for regional connectivity that they bring.”


Cuts Across the UK

Jobs in the aviation industry are being slashed throughout the UK, with British Airways (BA) planning to cut 12,000 jobs and Virgin Atlantic (VS) 3,000.

Additionally, Engine maker Rolls Royce says 9,000 employees are now redundant simply because of a lack of demand for engines and maintenance.

In all, the Airport Operations Authority says 20,000 jobs at UK airports are at risk.