The government is being urged to act immediately with emergency measures as part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £330 billion bailout to keep businesses alive during the coronavirus epidemic.
Abta, unions and aviation bodies have urged ministers to release details of what support will be available and to implement it without delay.
Sunak revealed he was discussing a specific package of help for airlines and airports with transport secretary Grant Shapps as well as support for those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
Meanwhile, the US government unveiled a $1 trillion aid package including a bailout for airlines and hotels.
Virgin Atlantic, which called for up to £7.5 billion to help UK airlines, welcomed Sunak’s “unprecedented level of support” for a sector “facing the biggest crisis in its history”.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren described the announcement as “very welcome” adding: “Airlines are facing significant pressure and without government action there is a real risk to the industry.
“It will be important to work through the detail, but we are already talking to government.”
Advantage Travel Partneship chief executve Julia Lo Bue-Said tweeted: “There were some positive big numbers and promises made by the Chancellor but we need to see exactly WHEN and the DETAIL behind these numbers. This is critical to understand whether these measures go far enough.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, 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.”
The Airport Operators Association had earlier called for the immediate suspension of taxes and business rates as well as emergency funding to prevent closures.
Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports had also signed a joint letter to prime minister Boris Johnson warning that they may “have to close passenger facilities and halt operations” and that hundreds of thousands of jobs were “instantly at real risk”.
Gatwick yesterday announced 200 job losses and a cut in executive pay and warned that “other serious measures are likely”.
The British Airline Pilots Association called for details of the government support package for aviation to be released swiftly.
The pilots union warned that airlines, airports, pilots and all aviation employees are suffering at the forefront of the coronavirus crisis.
Adequate support must come quickly and must be used to help workers and protect jobs.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “It is an important step to know the government is recognising the dire impact this crisis is having on aviation and the importance of supporting the industry so that it is there when recovery comes.
“But we need details and we need to ensure the measures are targeted correctly and urgently.
“Airlines are having to take unprecedented measures in their fight for survival and pilots and others in the aviation industry are suffering a huge threat to their incomes.
“We must ensure that any package of measures to help the industry will be used to help workers in the industry, to avoid job cuts and harmful reductions in livelihoods.”
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association demanded government guarantees on jobs, with a focus on the travel trade which is expected to be hit hard in the coming days and weeks.
Gareth Shaw, head of money at consumer group Which?, said: “The measures announced by the chancellor, such as a three-month mortgage holiday scheme, are an important first step to helping millions of consumers who may face financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis.
“The government must move swiftly to ensure those in need of assistance get clear information about how these schemes will work in practice – and that the process for doing so is straightforward, ensuring consumers can easily access the support they need in the challenging months ahead.”
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