Airlines welcome Government decision on deferring Air Navigation charges, but further longer-term measures needed to help carriers through unprecedented downturn

Responding to the decision by the Department for Transport to join countries across Europe in deferring the payment of Air Navigation charges for February to May 2020, for a period of 14 months, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“This is welcome news and we thank the Government for voting in favour for the proposals. Whilst it will help with short-term liquidity, it only refers to ATC charges for February to May, a period in which global aviation has virtually ground to a halt and charges for airlines would’ve been substantially reduced anyway. Further measures, including extending this deferral or ideally waiving ATC charges for the whole year, and doing likewise with other costs like CAA charges, will also be needed to help get airlines through this unprecedented downturn.”

MPs & former Aviation Ministers write to Chancellor to call for more support for sector to deal with COVID-19

Almost 40 cross-party Members of Parliament have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to call for more support for the UK aviation industry to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.

The letter – attached – stresses that whilst welcome, the measures announced thus far by the Chancellor to support the UK economy “will not be enough (for aviation) and you have righty indicated that further industry-wide measures will be considered to both support the sector through the crisis, and enable its recovery.” It further states:

“Airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, travel retailers and ground handlers have made clear to Government the support they need. We believe the Government should review these measures urgently, to safeguard jobs and the UK’s international competitivities as an aviation hub. This should include liquidity support where necessary, cost alleviations – including on a range of taxes and industry charges, regulatory easements and the adaptation of the Job Retention Scheme to take account of the unique aviation context. Industry, meanwhile, stands ready to work in partnership with Government by putting in place their own measures to assist with the effort.”

  • Robert Goodwill MP, former Aviation Minister, said: “It’s vital that when our battered and bruised economy emerges from this Covid-19 nightmare that we have an aviation sector that will be in a position to play its part in restoring the jobs and connectivity that the U.K. relies on in so many ways. This means ensuring that airlines, airports, aerospace engineering companies and the travel sector are given the “life support” required to survive this whirlwind in the short term to secure the industry’s long term future.”
  • Paul Maynard MP, former Aviation Minister, said: “At a time of unprecedented pressures for government, many sectors are clamouring for help. Our airlines and airports will be an essential part of our recovery, however, so if shareholders and investors do their bit in standing behind their airlines or airports, I really hope Government can consider how to support the sector’s resilience as a whole.”
  • Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, and Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “Aviation is one of the key enablers of the UK economy – without it we cannot trade or visit family and friends or do business – and more than a million people are employed in the sector. Now we are seeing airports start to close their doors and revenue – for both airlines and airports – fall to practically zero. Yet we need a healthy aviation industry to support the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.

“We’ve put countless cross-industry ideas on the table to help aviation through this, and the Chancellor said in his letter this week he was open to discussing them, yet no discussion has yet taken place. We ae now entering the danger zone, and we urge Government to change tack and start to engage on a sector-wide basis before it’s too late.”

Airlines respond to latest clarity from Chancellor on aviation support package from COVID-19 impacts

Commenting on the latest clarity provided by the Chancellor on the aviation support package to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“We welcome the announcement that Government will enter into negotiations with individual airlines seeking additional bespoke support, recognising the fundamental importance of the aviation sector to the UK economy and the particular challenges faced by airlines in the face of travel restrictions that have all but eliminated airline revenue, but not airline costs, which are substantial and not solely restricted to wages.  

“It is essential that the economy-wide measures announced thus far are implemented as quickly as possible, with accompanying further guidance, to support airlines through this unprecedented period and, alongside any additional bespoke or sector-wide measures, enable aviation to support a strong UK recovery from the current crisis in the months ahead.”

Government and airlines working to get British passengers affected by Coronavirus back to the UK

British tourists abroad should check the website of their travel provider and Foreign Office travel advice for the latest information.

  • government is working with industry to ensure they can continue to get British nationals abroad back to the UK, in light of border restrictions in place across the world
  • Transport Secretary today chaired a call with airlines and airports, following the additional financial support for businesses announced yesterday by the Chancellor
  • DfT and Treasury working to agree series of measures in coming days which will help the aviation sector get through the coronavirus pandemic

The government and UK airlines are continuing to work closely together to ensure British passengers overseas are able to return home through commercial means in light of the impact on overseas travel.

Many countries have introduced border restrictions and closed hotels since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began and during a call today (18 March 2020), both the airline industry and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps underlined their commitment to helping those currently overseas to return to the UK.

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, chaired the calls with major airlines and airports earlier today, where he confirmed that the Department for Transport and the Treasury will work together to develop a range of measures to support the industry in the coming days to help the aviation sector manage the impacts of coronavirus. Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said:

Coronavirus is having a crippling impact on the aviation industry and we cannot allow it to force world-leading, well-run, profitable firms out of business.

We are extremely grateful to airport and airline teams who are continuing to help passengers get home safely. We stand firmly behind the sector and expect to announce a series of support measures shortly.

But we also need to send a message to any British passengers overseas who are planning to return to the UK soon – it’s important to take account of the fast-moving situation and plan accordingly while flights remain available in many places.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive Airlines UK, said:

Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the airline sector, leading to an unprecedented fall in demand and a world-class UK industry facing a truly uncertain future. The promise from government to step in with a bespoke package of support for aviation to get us through the coming months is therefore very welcome, and we are currently working with ministers to go through the detail of what this might entail and hope an announcement will be made in the coming days.

In the meantime, we are working round the clock to bring home passengers stranded overseas, and will continue with these efforts, and we do urge passengers to check their airline’s website and where there are options to come home take them as soon as they can.

The Transport Secretary and the Aviation Minister have been in constant communication with the aviation industry since the Coronavirus outbreak, to ensure the government is fully informed about the challenges facing the sector. British tourists abroad should check the website of their travel provider and Foreign Office travel advice for the latest information.

Aviation, Europe and technology media enquiries

Airlines welcome commitment to bespoke package of measures to support aviation sector

Commenting on the announcement by the Chancellor that a bespoke package of measures would be agreed on aviation with respect to alleviating the impacts of COVID-19, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“This is welcome news and it’s very positive the Chancellor has promised a bespoke package for aviation. Clearly the detail will be important and we will want to see something sooner rather later, but we look forward to starting these discussions with Government in the coming days.”

Airlines UK statement on impact of coronavirus on airline sector

Commenting on the impact of coronavirus on the UK airline industry, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“The current challenges faced by the UK airline sector are truly unprecedented, and stark. Even just days ago, the idea that airlines across the globe would be cancelling thousands of flights and grounding aircraft on the current scale would have been unthinkable. Yet, this is the situation we see today, with carriers managing both the devastating impact of the collapse in demand for flying as people stay home, alongside the daily operational challenges of responding to border closures, travel restrictions and new health protocols.

“The situation is now truly critical. COVID-19 risks a lasting and irreversible effect on the health of the UK’s aviation industry – the third largest in the world – and the future for UK airlines is indeed now uncertain.” 

UK airlines respond to Budget – “the most serious period for aviation since 9/11 but questions remain as to whether this fact is understood within Government.”

Commenting on the Budget measures announced today, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“The review into the impact of APD on domestic aviation and the expectation that once the Brexit transition phase is over the double whammy on regional carriers will end is welcome. That said, APD as a whole – across all routes – is a damaging tax and completely counterproductive to the aims of making Britain a global trading nation.

“Just as disappointing is the complete lack of support for the sector’s net zero carbon strategy. UK aviation – alone amongst any national aviation sector in the world – has committed to net zero emissions by 2050 but this will not happen without the right policy levers from Government in encouraging new technologies and innovation like sustainable aviation fuels or electric flight.

“Aviation has been crying out for short-term support as we deal with an unprecedented crisis caused by coronavirus and the collapse of Flybe. This is the most serious period for the sector since 9/11 but questions remain as to whether this fact is understood within Government.”

UK airlines welcome temporary suspension of 80:20 slot rules to help alleviate impact of Coronavirus – but further detail is required

Commenting on the announcement from the European Commission that it will temporarily suspend the 80:20 slot rules to help the airline industry deal with the impacts of Coronavirus, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“UK airlines welcome the decision to temporarily suspend the ‘use it or lose it’ rule on airport slots, but we urgently need clarity that this will apply to all markets and for the duration of the summer season. Once this has been confirmed we would urge the UK’s slot coordinator ACL to implement the measures here and without delay. With Coronavirus significantly impacting demand it makes no sense to force airlines to fly empty aircraft, wasting money and fuel and damaging the environment. We urgently need this temporary suspension implemented to allow airlines to respond to demand properly and use their aircraft as efficiently as possible.”

UK airlines welcome CAA guidance on application of EU law on compensation rights for Coronavirus-related disruption

Commenting on the publication of new Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) guidance on the interpretation of EU law that applies to compensation rights for passengers during disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“UK airlines will always comply with all legal requirements on passenger rights and consumer protection and have an excellent record of looking after their customers when things go wrong. The coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on the airline sector and on operations and balance sheets, and carriers are having – through no fault of their own – to cancel flights either because the Government has advised against travel or regulators in other jurisdictions have issued advice or legal direction that is causing disruption.

“We therefore welcome this guidance from the CAA on the types of scenario that may constitute an extraordinary circumstance and now urge regulators in other countries to follow suit and for the European Commission to review passenger rights legislation across the whole of the European Union – in the same way they are doing on slots – so that passengers that are entitled to compensation continue to receive it but airlines are not unfairly penalised to the tune of millions of pounds for flight disruption that is not of their doing.”

The CAA guidance can be viewed here –

Flybe to cease trading – Airlines UK statement

Commenting on the news that Flybe has ceased trading, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“Flybe’s problems were known to many and the sector as a whole is going through an incredibly tough period with the Coronavirus hitting bookings and dampening demand, and this is being felt across the board. That said, this is now the fourth UK airline to go out of business in two years. The Government is right to say aviation is a commercial proposition and the market should win out – but they are not using the policy levers at their disposal to help the sector. APD is the prime example of a disproportionate and penalising policy that is actively holding us back.

“Leaving the EU presents Ministers with opportunities to intervene – for example getting rid of the double domestic APD anomaly, reforming EC261 or using PSOs in a more imaginative way – and these should be explored asap, with next week’s Budget presenting the perfect opportunity.”