Covid-19 Update 2
Wednesday 18th March 2020
As COVID-19 is a rapidly developing situation, I wanted to update you on the action Government has taken and the AOA’s work since our message to members yesterday.
Yesterday, the Chancellor made clear the Government would do whatever it takes to support businesses and announced a wide-ranging support package. You can find details of that announcement here. Some of these welcome measures will benefit airports and the wider aviation sector, but given our very specific needs and the fact that aviation is at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts, it was good to hear the Chancellor say that measures specific to airlines and airports will be announced in the coming days.
Following the Chancellor’s speech, the AOA has been reiterating the measures we asked for in yesterday’s letter to the Prime Minister. AOA Chair Ruby McGregor Smith, the AOA team and I have been speaking to Downing Street, HM Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport to set out more detail on our asks to ensure they are included as this package of measures is being drawn up.
Separately, I joined airport CEOs in calls with the Transport Secretary this morning and the Aviation Minister this afternoon. It was an opportunity for ministers to hear that airports need clarity on the support measures this week, as they expect passenger traffic to decline by up to 85%-95% at some airports next week. The Department for Transport has asked airports for detailed data to help them assess the scale of the challenge, which airports are responding to. Following the calls, we have written again to Government to underline the urgency and set out more detail on the necessary measures. You can find a copy of the letter here.
In addition to private discussions with Government, we have also followed up with the media on the issues we raised in our press release yesterday. I was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Today this morning as well as some local radio stations to outline the impacts on our sector.
Lastly, it was welcome to see Unite the Union publicly joining the industry’s calls for support earlier this week and today they wrote to the AOA with a message of support, a copy of which is available here.
At the same time, the AOA is keen to keep our business as usual going as much as possible. For example, today we held productive calls with the AOA Sustainability Group and discussed the consultation on the return of duty-free and VAT-free sales airside post-Brexit with HM Treasury and HMRC officials.
We will continue to press Government for urgent action to weather the current crisis and I will keep you informed of our progress.