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08 Mar 2021 | 08:26

Heathrow, TUC call on govt for aviation support package - report

(Sharecast News) - Britain's Trades Union Congress and Heathrow airport have called for government support to cover costs while travel bans remain in place. The duo were joined by international ground-handling operator Swissport as they demanded more help for the aviation sector after accusing the Treasury of ignoring its plight in last week's Budget.

"We can't have a full UK recovery if we don't have a full aviation recovery. But too many jobs in the industry have been lost already," TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady was quoted as saying in the Guardian newspaper.

"We lack a clear and realistic plan from government to protect aviation workers and businesses until they can safely operate at full capacity again. We hope the government will agree to get a group set up so that we can plan a full recovery and strong future for aviation together."

Finance Minister Rishi Sunak a year ago promised sector-specific support for aviation, but apart from access to government-backed loans and business rates relief, no package has been forthcoming.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said aviation had been an engine "for creating high-quality skilled jobs and will serve as an important catalyst for economic prosperity post-Covid".

"However, the continued lack of targeted support threatens both the viability of thousands of jobs and this government's own vision of a global Britain.

"Our sector has been effectively shut down for almost a year with minimal support. Ministerial action is long overdue, and our leaders must act now to protect livelihoods."

Passenger numbers at Heathrow fell almost 98% last April during the first lockdown, and about 1,700, or almost 30%, of its directly employed staff have been made redundant. Of the 75,000 workers in total at Heathrow before the pandemic, up to a third have now lost their jobs, the airport has estimated.

Last week Holland-Kaye said Sunak "clearly doesn't understand" that a post-Covid recovery needs a strong aviation sector "delivering the trade, tourism and investment that power vast parts of the British economy".

"Failing to even mention aviation, let alone provide full business rates relief for airports ... is a missed opportunity," he said.

"The absence of any meaningful support from the Government in the face of tough restrictions which have ground travel to a halt will weaken the sector and limit UK growth at the time it is needed most."
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