The British aviation industry is set to renew its request for government support in order to cope with the unprecedented losses stemming from the outbreak of COVID-19. As previous requests for assistance have been denied, a joint statement to be released over the coming days is said to call for UK ministers to do more.
Joint industry statement
Sky News has been informed of a statement that is being prepared by the ADS, the trade organization representing the aerospace, defense, security and space industries in the United Kingdom. It is set to renew the industry’s bid for emergency government aid. It will call upon ministers to agree upon “better-coordinated measures” in order to avoid the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
The statement, to be released within the coming days, will ask for an extension – both in duration and scope – of the Treasury’s range of financial support schemes. Furthermore, it will argue that while:
“…other countries are acting decisively, with unprecedented financial support for airports and airlines in the US, Australia, France, Norway and many other countries… the UK aviation, aerospace and travel sectors are at risk of being left behind in the recovery”.
The joint statement prepared by ADS is said to call for an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme beyond the end of May. This would allow for support to keep paying 80% of furloughed staff’s wages beyond that point. In addition, it is asking that the aviation sector be included in the business rates exemption given to companies in the hospitality and retail sectors, and for increased flexibility of lending programs.
They are also seeking to ensure that the government works with its counterparts “to ensure a coordinated approach is taken to the lifting of travel restrictions and other related measures to boost consumer confidence”.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
UK airlines and airports, having called for a multibillion-pound emergency aid package, have previously been told not to expect an industry-wide bailout from the UK government, despite initial pledges of support.
Carriers have only been eligible to receive funds through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, intended to support jobs and industry across all sectors. This would mean the government paying the bulk of staff wages, and deferring some rates and tax payments.
As previously reported, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in a letter to airline and airport executives that only “as a last resort” there could be talks with individual firms after the measures according to the planned scheme had been taken into account. He said he would not be rushed into a bailout and that the airlines should first seek assistance from investors and stakeholders.
To bail out, or not to bailout?
Governments across the globe have handled requests from airlines for bailout packages very differently. The US is finally set to pay some cash to its carriers to aid with payrolls, whereas Virgin Australia and El Al have been denied their calls for support. IATA has repeatedly called on governments, across the board and individually, to support their beleaguered airlines. Some have decided to heed that call, others not. It remains to be seen if the UK can be persuaded to provide more financial relief.
Do you think that the UK should provide special assistance to airlines and airports? Have circumstances changed enough since the Chancellor’s previous decision? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.