Covid-19 Update 15
Monday 6 April 2020
Dear AOA Member,
This afternoon, the Foreign Office updated its travel advice to say people should avoid travelling abroad indefinitely. While it is understandable they’re updating travel advice, this advice could have a unhelpful impact on consumer confidence and future bookings. We have since raised the need to ensure travel advice is proportionate and time-limited to the current crisis with officials.
Earlier today, I was on a call with the Business Secretary, where we again discussed the importance of ensuring that payments made as a part of the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) are efficient and timely. In addition, given the timescales of the current restrictions, I pressed the need for Government to consider extending the scheme beyond the current end of May end point. On the new criteria for the COVID-19 financial schemes – while welcoming the improvements – I highlighted that there would still be some businesses that would fail to qualify for either of the two schemes .
The AOA team then joined an operational call with the DfT, who were keen to highlight the extended loan schemes and the updated JRS guidance (for employers and for employees). This includes detail on eligible employers, different eligible employment relationships and what is included in an employee’s ‘regular wages’, including clarification around benefits in kind. The AOA reflected back the concerns I mentioned above.
We also raised the importance of Government starting to think about different scenarios for the recovery. The EU is scoping whether a coordinated approach is possible in the bloc, e.g. on lifting travel restrictions. It is important that the UK is taking a similar approach, so that we do not end up in a scenario with a patchwork of restrictions. The UK should also reflect on exit health screens, which some countries are already requiring, and how that is delivered and by whom if they are introduced more widely around the world. Lastly, the DfT and the CAA should consider their regulatory approach to restarting operations. Visibility for airports now around how the DfT and CAA will act in different scenarios based on the potential length of the current restrictions will be helpful for airports as they downscale operations and when they start thinking about upscaling again.
Tomorrow, airports have a call with the Aviation Minister and I will let you know of any points of note that come from that.