Covid-19 Update 10
Monday 30 March 2020
Dear AOA Member,
I hope you had a good weekend, despite the circumstances.
You may have seen that several of our media approaches paid off over the weekend, including the Daily Telegraph on Saturday and the Mail on Sunday looking at the impacts on the ground handling agents and airports. The Sunday Times briefly covered a letter to the Chancellor from 38 MPs that the AOA and Airlines UK coordinated but later on Sunday, BBC News took an in-depth look (see also CityAM and The Times). Lastly, the FT looked at the impact on regional airports, as part of which I highlighted how important regional airports are for the Prime Minister’s levelling up agenda.
Our efforts to press Government for action continue. Over the weekend, the Department for Transport (DfT) contacted airports to set out the existing measures and urging airports to take advantage of them. It was disappointing that the DfT did not take into account the concerns and requests for amendments that airports and the AOA had been asking for. We were assured that they are aware of those, but we will raise these again in our next discussion with the Minister.
This afternoon, I joined another conference call with the Business Secretary. I had followed up last week’s call with a written briefing on ground handling agents and their critical role in the system. Today’s call focused on the guidance issued by Government on the furlough scheme and continuing concerns from businesses which do not qualify for either the Covid Commercial Finance Facility or the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Following the Scottish Government’s decision on business rates relief for airports, we have written to the Chancellor (copy here) to urge him to maintain a level playing field in the UK. Parliament’s Transport Select Committee has published a note from the hearing it held via Skype with the Transport Secretary last week, ahead of which we briefed the Committee. It was good to see a few of our points being raised.
On the regulatory side, there are a couple of updates:
- Public Health England has updated its advice to airports during the Delay phase, and provided an FAQs with that. On GOV.uk, there is also updated guidance for workers in the transport sector.
- In Brussels, the EU has adopted the regulatory underpinning of the 80/20-rule relaxation (see here), which will consider all slots as flown from 1 March until 24 October 2020 (provided the slots have been handed back for reallocation) and this can be extended further. For Chinese routes, this applies from 23 January. ACI EUROPE has been making representations to the European Commission about concerns around late hand-backs by airlines. This prevents flights from being set up by another airline with that slot, e.g. as they look to restart operations in the coming months.
Tomorrow, we have a further call with the Aviation Minister, which I hope will provide an opportunity to get more clarity on the Government’s next steps. I will update AOA members afterwards in my next COVID-19 Update.