An emergency 12-month Air Passenger Duty waiver would save 45% of the air routes out of the UK that would otherwise be lost due to the pandemic, claims new research.

The move could also potentially save 8,000 jobs, according to the study carried out by York Aviation and commissioned by Airlines UK, the industry association for UK-registered airlines.

It found that UK airports will lose about 600 routes if the government does not intervene.

The situation would improve, as the market recovers, to being about 130 routes down by July 2021.

An emergency 12-month APD waiver in place, would see about 35 routes return immediately, and an additional 56 routes by July next year.

“In other words, by July 2021, it would have saved around 45% of routes that would otherwise be lost,” said Airlines UK.

As well as saving 8,000 jobs over the next 12 months, it would enable the sector to support an additional £7 billion in GVA (gross value added).

This GVA saving is 3.3 times greater than the expected revenue from APD over the next 12 months.

UK airlines are now asking for an emergency 12-month APD waiver to be announced no later than the autumn budget to boost demand.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “UK airports are in danger of losing many valuable routes over the coming months unless the government steps in with a support package for our sector – starting with an emergency APD waiver to get us through the winter and into the recovery.

“Some of these routes may never come back but APD relief will – by next July – save almost half that would otherwise be lost.”

Airlines UK estimates that passenger demand is 70% down in August 2020 compared to August 2019.

More than 30,000 airline jobs have either been lost, are at risk or subject to consultation, while airports, aerospace and ground handling businesses have also announced thousands of job cuts.

The Advantage Travel Partnership has backed Airlines UK on APD.

“Right now APD is putting unnecessary pressure on a fractured industry,” said an Advantage spokesperson.

“If the government can discount VAT for hospitality, it must be equipped to waive APD for a year to support the travel industry and enable us to get back on our feet.

“This will help secure air routes and importantly thousands of jobs. All too often we have seen the government overlook this industry and now is the time to act and provide tangible sector support.”

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