A Budget that is blind to the pandemic’s impact on aviation

Commenting on the Budget 2021, Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said:

“Aviation has been the hardest-hit sector in the pandemic, but the Budget is blind to the impact of the near-complete shutdown of international travel.

“While the extensions of the Job Retention Scheme and airport business rates relief are very welcome, they are not nearly enough given the scale of COVID-19’s impact. Combined with the long‑haul APD increase, which is a very damaging blow to an industry already on its knees, this is not a Budget for a global Britain.

“Aviation will have a long road to recovery, with passengers not expected to return to 2019 levels until the late 2020s. An abrupt end to government support for aviation in a few months’ time will lead to difficult decisions for airports, including on employment levels. The UK’s global competitors have recognised this and have backed their airports and aviation sectors with support far exceeded the UK’s efforts to date.

“The Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive have already taken steps to continue crisis support for airports, including full-year rates relief in Scotland. The UK Government must work urgently with devolved administrations to set out a four-nation Aviation Recovery Package of long-term financial and policy support to boost the recovery of the UK’s aviation connectivity.

“Only with such support will the work of the new Global Travel Taskforce have any chance of a successful take-off towards a world-leading UK aviation sector.”