By Edward Thicknesse, cityam.com
The UK’s aviation industry has come together in a fresh plea for extra government support for the struggling industry.
Representatives from the country’s biggest trade bodies have called for a aviation and aerospace recovery plan including short-term financial relief for airports and airlines.
Measures include the extension of a suspension of business rates to aviation firms, a 12 month waiver on Air Passenger Duty (APD), as well as fresh access to loans and grants.
They also called for the government to put in place an airport testing system to eliminate or reduce the need for quarantine.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “With the lockdown, travel ban and now mandatory pre-departure testing, UK airlines start 2021 having taken one step forwards and two steps back.
“Without the ability to bring in critical revenue, there remains a limit to the amount of debt carriers can take on, having already done everything asked of them by the Chancellor and absorbed billions from private investors, banks and the Treasury.
“Ultimately, if we cannot re-open travel the future of UK aviation will be bleak indeed but we’re hopeful government will step in and recognise its importance and contribution to UK, so we can continue delivering for passengers.”
There have already been 15,000 job losses in UK aerospace manufacturing linked to the impact of the pandemic on industry, while 30,000 job losses have been announced by UK airlines.
And new restrictions mean that the situation is likely to get worse before it improves.
Due to fears over new coronavirus variants, the government has currently suspended all of the UK’s quarantine-free travel corridors with overseas countries.
All those trying to enter the country must now show a negative coronavirus test or face quarantine for 10 days.
Despite calling for specialist support for nearly a year, the aviation sector has been left out in the cold by ministers, who said that emergency funding would only be available as a last resort.
Recently it was announced that business rates relief would be extended to airports in England, but only to a maximum of £8m.
Though such support will make a difference to smaller airports, large hubs such as Heathrow have business rates bills more than 10 times the maximum waiver.
Airport Operators’ Association chief exec Karen Dee said: “Airports are major employers in their regions and engines of national and regional economic growth, vital to both the UK Government’s global Britain and levelling-up agendas.
“The near-total collapse of air traffic over the last twelve months is thus devastating for communities around airports and the UK as a whole.
“The Government’s lack of comprehensive support for aviation is effectively tying one of the UK’s hands behind its back – economic recovery will be more difficult and take longer.”