Rethink the decision to loan £250 million to Manchester Airport Group and commit to a just recovery

Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan

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Bailouts and loans should not be offered to prop up the carbon intensive aviation industry, but instead should be given to workers directly to support a just transition, and a just recovery from current crisis.

To: Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned, are calling on the ten borough councils of Greater Manchester to rethink their financial package of more than £250 million to Manchester Airports Group (MAG), and commit to a post-lockdown economic recovery that addresses the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on Greater Manchester residents and workers without neglecting their responsibility to tackle the climate crisis.

The declaration of the financial package of £260 million to MAG from the borough councils has concerned us. The plans to loan this large sum of money were not published anywhere in the public domain, including in any council agenda items or notices of decision. Along with Manchester City Council’s suspension of the planning committee, this signals a lack of democracy and we call for democratic decision making processes to be reinstated.

We fully express solidarity with the airport workers who are suffering job losses as a result of this crisis; but economic stimulus must be directed at decarbonisation, and prioritising green investment. Loans and bailouts must be offered to workers themselves - not to MAG, which has a business plan that directly contradicts the targets outlined in the 2019 Tyndall report and the Climate Emergency declaration made by various Greater Manchester councils last spring.

While other authorities, such as the French government, are only bailing out carbon intensive industries, including aviation, with conditionalities such as the drastic reduction of domestic flights, statements from senior figures at Manchester City Council indicate that plans include expansion of the airport and the creation of additional tens of thousands of jobs in an unstable sector - a clear step in the wrong direction.

A report published by Cambridge University shows that at the current rate, even if all regional airports closed by 2030, the UK would barely meet its legal obligation to meet the 2050 carbon budget. A clear strategy to reduce the councils' dependency on aviation revenues is long overdue.

The income generated by MAG last year was £73 million, shared between the ten borough councils. Considering the fact that industry insiders have predicted that airlines will not recover for another five years, the airport is not expected to bring in the levels of income that it has done over the next five years. This investment of more than £250 million is unjustified and dangerous in the face of the climate crisis.

Instead, we call upon Manchester City Council (as the largest shareholder) and the nine other borough councils to use the economic stimulus required for the post-lockdown recovery for the benefit of Greater Manchester’s future.

We encourage job creation in socially reproductive industries such as green infrastructure projects, the retrofitting of housing stock to reach zero-carbon emissions targets, and with much needed large scale investment in social care. The airport workers facing job losses should be redeployed to support a modal shift in the transport sector from aviation to rail wherever possible, as part of a co-ordinated and publicly owned integrated transport system.

We need a recovery that is just and fair, in line with calls from economists, trade unionists, climate activists, and even the current Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We can’t return to business as usual once this crisis is over.

Greater Manchester has always been at the forefront of social change and cities work best when built for their citizens. These calls are in line with that ethos and we expect them to be taken into serious consideration by our elected officials.

Greater Manchester Labour for a Green New Deal

Bury South Socialists
Climate Emergency Manchester
Compass Manchester
Extinction Rebellion Manchester
Frack Free Greater Manchester
Fridays For Future Manchester
Green New Deal UK - Manchester
Manchester Campaign Against Climate Change
Manchester Friends of the Earth
Manchester RS21
Steady State Manchester
Unite NW389
Youth Strike Manchester