Ahead of their annual conference on Monday, the Airport Operators Association has written to the Prime Minister to call for urgent support to help protect airports following the restrictions on international travel announced as a part of the second national lockdown.
The letter highlights that the measures introduced by the Prime Minister amount to the effective closure of aviation, with all airports having to consider what forms of closure they should implement, including restrictions on operating hours through to full closures and further job losses.
The trade body, whose annual conference on Monday will be addressed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP, Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon MP and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has set out a package of support measures to help airports through the challenging winter months. This includes:
- Business Rates Relief for English airports for 12 months, bringing them into line with their Northern Irish and Scottish counterparts, and the hospitality and retail sectors. We call on the Welsh Government to take similar action for Welsh airports.
- Extending corporate fiscal support measures, or a new equivalent of them, on a sectoral basis. This would include support with employment costs beyond the end of the Job Retention Scheme but also general finance measures such as the CCFF and CBILs.
- Funding the aviation sector’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, for the 2020/2021 period.
- Reversing the decision to remove tax-free shopping from airports.
- Temporary suspension of Air Passenger Duty, thus incentivising air connectivity in the recovery phase.
- Working with industry to agree a funding solution for the airspace modernisation programme.
- Assistance with police costs reflecting its fixed nature despite reduced passenger numbers.
- Urgent progress with testing and for it to be in place and ready to reduce the need for quarantine when breaks in restrictions allow travel.
Commenting, Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association said: “Airports cannot remain open indefinitely when passenger numbers and revenue is non-existent. They need urgent financial support and for testing to be up and running by the beginning of December in preparation for when international travel resumes.
“That our airports have weathered the greatest challenge they have ever faced without the levels of support afforded to other sectors or by other European nations has left our sector on its knees, with airports losing money at a staggering rate.
“This is simply unsustainable, and it is imperative the Government understands the brutal reality our airports face and brings forward a package of support measures without any further delays.
“Without support our aviation sector faces an uncertain future which will hold back our national economic recovery and leave the Government’s Global Britain plans in tatters.”