COVID-19: British Airports Demand Funding and Tax Cuts from UK Gov’t amid Shutdown Fears

© AP Photo / Steve ParsonsA view of the near empty departure area at London's Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 departure, Thursday March 12, 2020. As a virus pandemic spreads globally, China and other parts of Asia are scrambling to prevent it from coming back to where it broke out. Everyone arriving in Beijing must quarantine for 14 days, and South Korea is screening arriving passengers from more countries as the number of cases rises across Europe. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
A view of the near empty departure area at London's Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 departure, Thursday March 12, 2020. As a virus pandemic spreads globally, China and other parts of Asia are scrambling to prevent it from coming back to where it broke out. Everyone arriving in Beijing must quarantine for 14 days, and South Korea is screening arriving passengers from more countries as the number of cases rises across Europe. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.  - Sputnik International
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Thousands of industry jobs are at risk after it was revealed by the Airports Council International that UK airports had recorded a £1.8 billion loss in revenue amid the Coronavirus epidemic. As a result, Britain’s Government is now being pressured to launch emergency financial measures to protect the industry amid global travel bans.

Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports have on Tuesday written to Britain’s government warning that their operations may face closure without an urgent intervention from Downing Street stating that 'jobs have instantly been put at very real risk'.

Closures to passenger facilities, widescale redundancies and flight cancellations were just some of the concerns from worried airport bosses, if Britain’s government fails to intervene soon, as passenger footfall continues to fall and coronavirus cases rise. In the letter, directors warned Boris Johnson that:

'The impact on the hundreds of thousands of people, either employed by us directly or through the SMEs and supply chains that serve our customers, is massive, real and happening at speed'.

‘We would ask he also urgently meets with us this week and that our needs are made an immediate priority for the "Economic and Business Response Committee" that the Chancellor is establishing today'.

The warnings from representatives at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports follow similar concerns from the country’s Airports Operators Association, who on Monday stated that other airports could go out of business for good, unless taxes and business rates were suspended and emergency funding provided to businesses across the board.

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London Gatwick is one of Britain’s airports expected to announce a series of measures that will allegedly cut operational costs, after the US banned visitors from the UK with ongoing travel restrictions put in place in Europe and around the world. Gatwick had 238 flights scheduled to depart on Tuesday – just a third of its peak capacity, representing a serious loss for the airport.

In mainland Europe; members of the group Airports Council International (ACI) urged a continent-wide response to the crisis stating that EU, UK and EEA airports had 100 million fewer passengers than previously anticipated in the first months of 2020.

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The ACI also revealed that Europe’s airports have now lost €2bn (£1.8bn) in revenue for the first quarter, warning that losses were expected to worsen in the coming months. The group revealed that Italy had experience an estimated 90% decrease in passenger traffic, as the country continues to wrestle with widespread cases.

Airlines across Europe are expected to continue cancelling flights in the upcoming week on top of plans to ground the majority of aircraft due to ongoing travel restrictions between states and a decrease in the demand for flights.

These actions from aviation industries in the UK and Europe follow a global pandemic of Coronavirus that is believed to have originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan. The outbreak was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020 after cases were reported in 163 countries around the world.

 

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