Aviation sector calls on Johnson for more support

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 Aviation sector calls on Johnson for more support

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Summary

  • The sector has issued a joint letter to the Boris Johnson government asking for more state funding and support.
  • Business rate relief, coverage of airport operations cost during closures, new sector loans and a year long passenger duty holiday for the airport are high on the cards.

The British aviation sector has asked the Boris Johnson government to provide more financial support to help the industry sail through the crisis due to coronavirus related travel restrictions. A joint plea was forwarded by the ground handling workers at Swissport International Limited, Trade Union Congress, and the Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited saying with the latest lockdown, the demand in the industry is plummeted down to merely 2 per cent of the usual level.

In June 2020, an estimate made by New Economics Foundation predicted that 124,000 jobs were at risk across aviation and its ancillary industries.

Also Read: Why British Airways owner IAG posted a record loss of €7.43bn in 2020

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Need of the hour

The joint plea has asked for a one-year holiday for the airport passenger duty. It has also requested for extending the repayment period of existing loans and fresh lending to back the sectoral growth.  Additionally, the industry wishes the government to cover operational cost during the periods of airport closure. Finally, it wants complete business rate relief for aviation firms and supporting industries along with full furlough aid where Covid-19 restrictions are in place.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive, Heathrow, said the British aviation sector has the potential to serve as an engine for economic growth post-Covid. It has been a catalyst in creating high-quality skilled employment, he added.

Also Read: Aviation sector receives £84.6m boost for greener future

Government’s response

The government has responded in an email statement that the UK Budget 2021 has already set out the next round of support for companies which includes extending the furlough scheme and government loans. Close to £7 billion of aid has been extended to the British aviation sector since the start of the pandemic by now, said the email.

On the other hand, Jim McMahon, spokesman for transport, Labour party, said that it was almost a year since the government had promised a customised sector specific support for aviation. But it was yet to materialise leading to job losses in the sector, added McMahon.

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