A series of measures are reported to be under consideration as part of a multi-billion pound government rescue plan for ailing UK airlines.
The plea for financial support has led to leading City bank Rothschild being requested to advise ministers on a package of measures due to be unveiled within days, according to Sky News.
Carriers including easyJet, British Airways owner International Airlines Group, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic reportedly met transport secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday with a collective plea for help.
They are sail to be looking for:
- A state-backed credit facility to inject billion of pounds of liquidity into airline left paralysed by the coronavirus pandemic
- A freeze on air traffic control changes
- A four-month moratorium on the EC261 European flight delay compensation scheme
- A temporary cancellation of Air Passenger Duty once normal schedules are resumed to stimulate customer demand
- Help will staff costs at a tine when thousands of airline workers are being forced to take unpaid leave or pay cuts
- Financial guarantees to release money held by credit card companies amid concerns over potential insolvency of airlines
It is possible that not all measures requested by airlines will be approved.
But government officials were reported to have been “stunned” to be told how rapidly carriers would run out of cash while operating on near-zero revenues while carrying foxed costs for more than a few weeks.
Airlines will be expected to commit to a public guarantee to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Britons who remain abroad in return for the aid package.
The Department for Transport said the transport secretary and 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”.
Shapps said on Wednesday evening: “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 of industry body Airlines UK, added: “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.”
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