MIAMI – The UK’s Airport Operators Association (AOA) declares that the government must make an unequivocal commitment to sustain the UK aviation industry due to the current crisis.
Previously, the CEOs of Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN) airports signed a joint letter to the UK Prime Minister warning him that they may have to cut passenger services and operations, affecting thousands of jobs now at risk as a result of the COVID-19’s consequences.
“Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt,” said AOA’s Chief Executive, Karen Dee in a statement.
“As some airlines call on the UK government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry,” added Dee.
Needed support in the midts of a growing crisis
The increase in travel bans and the drop in passenger traffic have progressively made U.K. airports take immediate and drastic actions to halt costs and back investments.
“For the sake of the UK economy it is essential for the UK Government to catch-up to its peers across the continent and provide support to the sector and the wider economy through financing, guarantees, grants, and tax relief,” stated Dee.
Pointing out the essence of the declaration, U.K.’s airports represent critical national infrastructure for the public service that they offer, so it is essential that they remain operative and are able to face the situation as they can provide growth, employment, and prosperity after the crisis.
Outside England, a spokesman of Edinburgh Airport (EDI) said the past week that they are expecting at least three months of zero passenger demand, so tough decisions will be made involving 750 jobs at risk.
Proposed government steps
Regarding the measures to take, Dee suggests the government:
- Be prepared to provide/organize emergency financing as a measure of last resort.
- Require banks to temporarily not enforce financial performance-based banking covenants.
- Suspend business rates and other government and local government rates and taxes on airports.
- Deferral of payments of all VAT, corporation tax and other taxes for the duration of global flight restrictions.
- Share the employment cost of airport staff laid off throughout the crisis.
- Suspend regulatory costs on airports where possible.
- Indefinitely postpone major increases to those regulatory costs, such as the Next Generation Security Checkpoint.
- Provide relief from airport policing costs.
Alongside these actions, Dee advises the government to suspend Air Passenger Duty (APD) for six months to start the re-back of normal operations in the aviation industry.