Covid-19 Update 6
Tuesday 24 March 2020
Dear AOA Member,
This afternoon, airport and airlines CEOs received a letter from the Chancellor outlining that the Government would no longer be proceeding with its aviation support package. This represents a hugely disappointing change of approach from the Government, just under week after promising a special package of support for our sector. While recognising the unique and immense value provided by the UK aviation sector, in terms of connectivity and direct employment, the Chancellor stated that the Government would only be prepared to work with aviation companies on an individual, not sector-wide, basis. The Chancellor goes on to direct companies to the measures he announced last week, including the Covid Commercial Finance Facility and the employment retention scheme.
I’m disappointed the Government has decided not to move forward with the announced support package for our sector. The AOA’s full statement on the issue can be read here. This afternoon, evening and tomorrow morning, the AOA will be engaging with the press and media, as well as working with our allies in Parliament to express this disappointment and make the case for a robust package of measures specifically for airports and their associated ground-based services. I set out the essential elements of such a support package in a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport last night. In light of the developments today, we will focus most urgently on getting clarity on how the employment retention scheme could be adapted to work for us and on measures to secure short-term liquidity. I hope we can count on the support of all AOA members in this effort.
In terms of some good news, our regulators have listened to representations made by the AOA and announced several interventions, including on air traffic services and aviation security, which should grant some relief. The CAA has agreed to extend the validity of ATCO licenses until 31st October 2020, regardless of when those licenses were due to expire. This will assist airports and ANSPs in their staff rostering and business continuity plans. On security, the Department for Transport has extended all of the deadlines for its Next Generation passenger security checkpoint programme by one year. This may prove helpful for airport operators looking to draw back their capital investment projects.