Government rejects petition’s demands for furlough extension

More than 16,000 people have signed a petition urging the government to extend the furlough scheme for the aviation sector.

If a petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee can consider it for a parliamentary debate.

However, the government has not announced any extension to the furlough programme – known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – which is being wound down until it closes at the end of September.

In a response to the petition, the government outlined support already given to the aviation sector and said: “The CJRS was designed as a temporary, economy-wide measure to support businesses while widespread restrictions were in place. It is right that we ask employers across the economy to contribute more as Covid-19 related restrictions are lifted, in order to strike a balance between encouraging employers to bring employees back to work and continuing to support the economy and protect incomes.

“Of course, the government has shown throughout the pandemic that it is prepared to adapt support if the path of the virus changes.

“We continue to engage closely with sectors across the economy, including the travel industry, to understand their recovery horizons as the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions ease.”

More: Politicians urge furlough extension for travel industry

The statement said aviation has been supported with an “unprecedented package of measures” announced by the chancellor.

These include schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills and past extensions of the furlough scheme – plus £11 billion made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and grants for research and development.

It also said the Global Travel Taskforce framework for the return to international travel – with the traffic light system – is a “vital step in enabling the recovery of travel operators and those whose jobs rely on the travel industry”.

“Industry bodies, media and airline groups have responded positively to this announcement, with many travel operators adding additional flights and holidays to new destinations,” added the government statement.

The petition said: “Aviation travel is the last industry that will be affected by the pandemic, clearly, the United Kingdom is ahead of the game with vaccinations. There is a clear indication from the Delta variant that international travel is going to slow down as a result. Travel is always going to be the last thing to be released. Environmental issues or not, as it stands, we need aviation to survive, please help us keep our industry alive, we will want to travel as we come out of this way pandemic.”

Click here to view the government response in full.

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