U.K. Aviation Industry Calls on Johnson for More Financial Aid

Heathrow airport, unionized workers and ground-handling staff issued a joint plea to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for more state funding to help the aviation industry survive Covid-19 travel restrictions that put demand at just 2% of its usual level.

A June estimate by the New Economics Foundation said a further 124,000 jobs in the U.K. were at risk across aviation and the industries it supports on top of workers who’ve already lost their places. Now a joint call from the Trades Union Congress, ground-handlers Swissport International Ltd. and Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd. asks for:

  • Full business rates relief, including the entire furlough scheme remaining in place where public health restrictions are in force and confidence remains subdued
  • The taxpayer to cover airport operational costs during closures
  • Government loans to industry and extending the repayment periods
  • A 12-month holiday for airport passenger duty

“Aviation has been an engine for creating high-quality skilled jobs and will serve as an important catalyst for economic prosperity post-Covid,” Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said in an emailed statement.

“The budget set out the next phase of support available for businesses –- including the extension of government-backed loans and furlough payments, which build on around 7 billion pounds ($9.7 billion) of support already pledged for the aviation sector since the start of the pandemic,” a government spokesman said in an emailed response.

“It’s almost a year since ministers promised a sector-specific support package for the aviation industry, but it’s yet to materialize,” the opposition Labour Party’s transport spokesman Jim McMahon said in an email. “It’s clear that government failure is costing jobs.”

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