Cabin crew who have lost their jobs because of the collapse in aviation should retrain as carers and nurses, the work and pensions secretary has said.
“I want to encourage them to perhaps go into teaching or go to college and to be the people who train the next lot of people who are going to do those jobs,” she said.
“How do we help draw out of them the transferable skills that they have, and that could be working in social care?”
Ms Coffey also backed the prime minister’s call for female cabin crew to retrain as nurses.
“I’m sure other cabin crew as well who are male could make equally good nurses. It’s just whether or not people want that as a complete lifestyle change.
“It may not be their dream job for the rest of their lives. But it may well be very useful: they get more money coming in than if they’re on benefits and it can also provide something really valuable and rewarding.”
The minister’s call came as BA operated its final Boeing 747 departures from Heathrow – and on the day that easyJet repeated its call for government support and blamed travel restrictions for causing a collapse in consumer confidence.
Manchester Airports Group has begun consultation on hundreds of redundancies.
Unite regional officer Mark Barter said: “These job losses are an inevitable consequence of the government’s failure to provide sector specific support to the aviation industry, the sector which has been most heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Once Covid-19 is under control, confidence will return to the industry and flights will increase. It is a total failure of government to not be assisting the industry and its workforce through this crisis in order to ensure it can quickly recover when the virus abates.
“The chancellor first promised sector support in March. An aviation recovery plan was promised last month. Nothing has materialised and job losses are increasing by the day.”
Many of the cabin crew made redundant by British Airways were members of Unite.