Britain's airlines, airports, aviation manufacturers ask government for help again

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: British Airways Boeing 747 G-CIVD leaves London Heathrow airport on it's final flight in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's airlines, airports and aviation manufacturers pleaded for immediate financial support from the government and a longer-term recovery plan after COVID-19 stopped travel and new testing requirements dashed bounce-back hopes.

Three trade bodies said they wrote to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday to ask for a package of measures including temporarily suspending business rates and a tax on flying, extra loans for airlines and access to funds for the aerospace supply chain.

Help was needed to "protect companies from the threat to their survival" posed by the pandemic, and to prevent more jobs being put at risk, said Airlines UK, which represents British Airways, easyJet and others, the Airport Operators Association and the UK aerospace trade body ADS.

Britain's current lockdowns ban most international travel. Flight volumes in the UK are down 80% compared to 2019 and over 45,000 jobs have already been lost in the sector, with more threatened, the groups said.

New rules Britain introduced on Monday, which require a negative pre-departure test for travellers plus a period of quarantine on arrival, are a further blow they warned.

The government needs to plan to re-introduce some quarantine-free travel and a cheaper testing regime to aid the aviation recovery once vaccines are rolled out, they said.

"To achieve a strong overall economic recovery from this crisis the UK must sustain aviation and aerospace industries that connect us to global trading partners and provide vital jobs in every part of the country," ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said in a statement.

Britain's government said on Saturday it would give financial aid to airports before the end of March.

The country's aviation industry has repeatedly asked the government for help during the crisis but has to date primarily only benefited from support schemes available to all industries.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)