Airlines write to ask for government help…

Airlines write to ask for government help as passengers no longer travel by air, due to Covid-19
2020-03-17 23:03:00
As with so many other sectors and businesses in the UK and elsewhere, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing great difficulties to airports and airlines. Having speeded the spread of the disease round the world, airlines are now seeing a massive reduction in the numbers of people who want to fly. Governments are telling people not to travel. Planes are empty. Airports are empty. Many airlines do not have more than 2 or 3 months of reserves and are asking for government money to bail them out. Airports want help too, as do most other sectors. Whether giving money to airports (eg. Heathrow and Gatwick, owned by rich foreign companies) is a sensible use of scarce public funds, is another matter. Now Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports have warned that they may have to close down operations unless there is government intervention to help them weather the virus crisis (that might last for many months more).  The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said other airports are in the same position. IATA has said only about 30 of more than 700 airlines operating commercial flights around the world were likely to survive the next few months without help. .Tweet   UK airports warn they may close unless government intervenes Joint letter to PM says hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk because of Covid-19 By Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent   @GwynTopham Tue 17 Mar 2020  (The Guardian)  Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports have warned that they may have to close down operations unless there is government intervention to help them weather the coronavirus crisis. The call came as the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said about only 30 of more than 700 airlines operating commercial flights around the world were likely to survive the next few months without help. The three UK airports signed a joint letter to the prime minister warning that they may “have to close passenger facilities and halt operations” and that hundreds of thousands of jobs were “instantly at real risk”. Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport, employs 70,000 people directly. The UK-based Airport Operators Association (AOA) also said on Tuesday that other airports could go out of business within weeks, and called for the immediate suspension of taxes and business rates as well as the provision emergency financing, as passenger traffic through airports has plummeted. The call came before the UK government advised against all non-essential foreign travel. European members of the Airports Council International (ACI) wrote to ministers to request a continent-wide response to the crisis, noting that EU, UK and EEA airports have had 100 million fewer passengers than expected in 2020. In Italy, where measures to combat the outbreak were initiated within Europe, passenger traffic is down by 90%, ACI said. Across the continent, numbers were 54% lower last week (9-15 March), after a 24% drop the previous week, with the situation rapidly escalating. The AOA chief executive, Karen Dee, said: “Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt. As some airlines call on the UK government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry. “The UK’s airports are critical national infrastructure, fulfilling a vital public service, and are on the frontline of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is essential that airport businesses remain operating and are able to weather this storm.” Dee said airports were taking immediate and drastic action to cut costs but the government would need to provide additional support through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief. London Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, announced on Tuesday it would cut 200 temporary jobs, end night flights and cut executive pay, as part of a package of measures to protect the business. Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, warned that “other seri

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