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UK airports brand government U-turn on pandemic package “disappointing”

UK airports coronavirus

UK trade body Airport Operators Association (AOA) has hit out at the government’s decision to not support airlines and airports with one comprehensive package, but take a case-by-case approach instead.

The AOA has said the decision will leave airports struggling to provide critical services and will hamper the UK’s recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.

“After having publicly announced a support package for airports and airlines, we’re surprised by where we find ourselves today. Our industry will now have to fight on its own to protect its workforce and its future,” commented AOA chief executive Karen Dee said.

“With passenger numbers approaching close to zero, UK airports have seen a major drop in revenue. They are taking unprecedented steps to safeguard airport staff and operations through this crisis, which could include in some cases considering shutting down for a period of time. This could have major impacts for UK communities and businesses.

“Even amidst the crisis, airports are continuing to provide lifeline services to the Highlands & Islands communities and the UK Crown Dependencies and freight services to ensure vital supplies arrive in the UK.”

The AOA is urging the government to reconsider and provide a package of support for airports to ensure the UK’s aviation infrastructure is ready for action once the pandemic recedes.

The measures called for include increasing the flexibility of the employment retention scheme to take account of the airport context and ability to maintain a skeleton staff to continue critical operations; extending business rate relief to airports, airport retail and hospitality businesses and other airport support companies; deferral of all other taxes, such as corporation tax, for the duration of global flight restrictions.

In addition, the AOA is calling on government to require banks and bondholders to temporarily not enforce financial performance-based banking covenants; suspend regulatory costs on airports, including by deferring deadlines on mandated investments such as Next Generation security scanning equipment and provide relief from airport policing costs.

Visit aoa.org.uk for more information.

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