Covid-19 Update 9
Friday 27 March 2020
Dear AOA Member,
It’s been another busy day for us at the AOA. The guidance on the Job Retention Scheme that I had hoped to include in yesterday’s update is now available here. This clarifies that staff who have been furloughed can conduct some training (e.g. to maintain regulatory compliance), though they cannot work. The CAA has updated its guidance on RFFS easements as a result (see here).
Today, I joined the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, on a conference call. This was a good opportunity to set out our concerns directly to him, in particular on business rates relief and support for ground handling companies, he’s asked for some further detail from us on that, which is encouraging. Separately, Downing Street has been in touch with us following our letter to the Chancellor to say that they are considering the points that we have raised.
The AOA team has also been continuing conversations with other aviation organisations today. With Unite the Union, we’re discussing how we can align our messaging and ensure our approaches to the Government are coordinated. We’re also working with IATA to see if we can use some of their helpful data to strengthen the case that the UK is one of the few countries not taking bold action to support aviation. And with Airlines UK we have been working on some joint media and Parliamentary approaches. The British Chambers of Commerce will be writing to Government in support of aviation and I will circulate their letter once it has been sent.
We’re also continuing to be in touch with other aviation colleagues, such as the ground handlers. They are in a precarious position and given their strategic importance, it is vital they continue to be able to operate at airports even with few flights still coming in and out, especially at those airports which support lifeline services to the Highlands and Islands and the UK Crown Dependencies. We are making those points strongly to the Department for Transport.
You may have seen in the media that there has been some criticism of social distancing in airports. Heathrow has made its posters and digital display materials encouraging social distancing available to other airports. You can download them here.
Lastly, with the Scottish Government having approved business rate relief for Scottish airports, we will be writing to Ministers in the UK to take similar action as part of their package of measures.
I hope that you have a good weekend, despite the lockdown and we will update you on Monday on any developments that happen over the weekend.