SCOTLAND'S aerospace industry will be "critically damaged" if government does not take urgent action, according to a new analysis.

New research commissioned by Unite and undertaken by Acuity Analysis highlights a "worrying cycle" of job losses in the country's aerospace industry.

And Unite has warned that unless the Scottish and UK Governments move swiftly to produce a comprehensive strategy and support package for the aerospace industry then there will be huge job losses along with severe damage to the Scottish economy.

The research highights that in Scotland there were 45 aerospace manufacturing, and 120 aircraft maintenance workplaces in 2019. The industry generated £331m for the Scottish economy in 2019 and employed more than 7,800 direct workers.

The union said that in the last month there has been a spate of redundancy and job severance scheme consultations effecting more than 1,000 workers including the announcement by Rolls Royce that up to 700 jobs could be lost at its Inchinnan factory.


GE Caledonian based in Prestwick cut its workforce by 150 jobs through voluntary severance while Spirit Aerosystems has begun a similar process which will make 183 roles redundant. Meanwhile, a number of posts are said to be under threat at nearby Collins Aerospace.

Wyman Gordon based in Livingston which employs 187 people also issued redundancy notices to 72 workers blaming a significant drop in orders due to the crisis facing the aerospace and aviation industries.

Unite said governments should intervene with specific sectoral packages to support jobs and skills retention. Unite is also part of the Scottish Government’s newly established Aerospace Response Group.

Pat Rafferty, Unite's Scottish secretary, said: “The Scottish aerospace sector is in a deep crisis. The aerospace sector includes civilian, defence and space divisions, which have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic primarily as a result of the dramatic decline in new aircraft orders and the vastly reduced need for maintenance of existing aircraft.

"Our fight in Scotland is not only about job losses but about maintaining a manufacturing and engineering capability for the future. However, without immediate intervention from both the UK and Scottish Governments to support the industry it is on the brink of being critically damaged. Over the coming months we face thousands of well-paid and highly-skilled jobs being lost to the economy forever. The gravity of the situation can’t be overstated and swift action is essential.”

The UK Government's UK Export Finance (UKEF) initiative provided over £665 million in support for the aerospace industry in 2019-20.

It's documents show a loan was provided to support engine overhauls undertaken by GE Caledonian in Prestwick in Scotland, taking support for GE Aviation overhauls in the UK to close to £100 million.

The recent assistance was for Atlas Air Worldwide’s engine overhauls at GE Caledonian, and was delivered in partnership with the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The UK’s maximum liability on the transaction was £8.5 million.

Last week another major European carrier secured billions of euros of government-backed support as KLM followed Air France and Lufthansa in agreeing financing to weather the coronavirus crisis.

The support packages - €9 billion for Lufthansa, €7 billion for Air France and €3.4 billion for KLM – should also benefit each airline’s technical arm.

A Scottish Government spokesman said:“We recognise that the aerospace sector has been severely impacted following a collapse in global demand for air travel due to the pandemic.

“The Aerospace Response Group, which is chaired by the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, has been convened to bring together a group from across industry and trades unions with the aim of safeguarding jobs and preserving aerospace manufacturing, research and development in Scotland.”

A UK Government spokesman said:“We understand this is difficult time for businesses and workers across the aerospace sector and stand ready to support those at risk of losing their jobs.

“The aerospace sector remains a critical part of the UK economy and we will continue to work closely with industry to ensure it can rebuild as the civil aviation market recovers.

“While conditions remain challenging, firms can continue to draw on the Government’s financial support packages, including billions of pounds of loans and guarantees, tax deferrals and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”