Aviation sector makes urgent plea for further government support

Aviation bodies have called on the government to extend its support and act in a more coordinated way to help businesses in the sector.

ADS, Airlines UK and the Airport Operators Association have made a joint plea to government for help before companies face difficult decisions affecting their workforces.

It stressed UK airports were operating at minimal capacity, with requests for ticket refunds outnumbering new flight bookings and demand only likely to return slowly as consumers gain confidence to travel again as restrictions are lifted.

In a joint statement the trade bodies said: “Making sure the aviation and aerospace sectors can quickly and fully recover when restrictions are lifted will support the wider recovery in UK trade that is vital to limiting the economic cost of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Not only are 1.6 million jobs and £92 bn in GDP dependent on aviation, aerospace and the tourism sectors, aviation is also one of the engines of the UK economy, enabling other businesses to reach customers, trade goods and build new relationships.”

While the steps taken so far by the UK government to support businesses were welcomed, the statement added: “Further urgent steps and better coordinated actions are urgently needed to support our industry’s and thus the UK’s future recovery.”

More at:Coronavirus: Latest news and updates

The bodies representing the aviation sector specifically called on the government to:

  • Extend business rate relief measures already taken for retail, leisure and hospitality to include aviation, as the Scottish government has done.
  • Extend the job retention scheme beyond May and allow for more flexibility to allow aviation and aerospace companies to avoid unwanted redundancies, safeguard staff’s regulatory compliance and scale up operations in the coming months.
  • Make financial support schemes available to all businesses, amend the current caps on lending to boost accessibility and ensure flexibility to ensure monies can be repaid in line with the sector’s recovery.
  • Work internationally to ensure a coordinated approach is taken to the lifting of travel restrictions and other measures to boost consumer confidence.

The organisations pointed to the fact that other countries were acting decisively with ‘unprecedented financial support for airports and airlines’ in countries such as the US, Australia, France, and Norway.

The statement added: “Without clear steps by the UK Government, including those outlined above, the UK aviation, aerospace and travel sectors are at risk of being left behind in the recovery.

“With the UK’s ambition to become a global actor after we have left the EU, aviation will be more important than ever to realising the government’s long-term goals. Equally, the UK’s communities and visitors will see their fortunes restored more rapidly, if aviation can quickly recover from the current pandemic. The UK government has an opportunity to make both those things possible, if it acts decisively now.”

The statement was signed by Paul Everitt, ADS chief executive; Tim Alderslade, Airlines UK chief executive (pictured); and Karen Dee; AOA chief executive.

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