Airports have warned that they may slash up to 20,000 jobs if they fail to receive government support, British media reported on Monday.
"An exit plan is now more critical than ever, as long-haul flights remain grounded and more jobs continue to be put at risk in an industry crucial to rebuilding the UK economy," an airport spokesperson wrote.
The news comes after Heathrow engineers began repairs on one of its runways as the low traffic numbers impacted operations, and announced a 'test on arrival' scheme for "COVID-negative" travellers to enter the UK without quarantine.
“Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kickstart the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world. We’re ready to pilot a testing system on arrival for passengers from “red” countries as an alternative to quarantine, but even better would be to test passengers before they get on a plane. This requires a Common International Standard for testing, which the UK government could take a global lead in setting up,” Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said.
The announcements come after the Airports Operators Association (AOA) called on the UK government to extend business rates relief in England and Wales a further year.
According to the AOA, English airports had paid over £70m in business rates following the lockdown in March despite passenger traffic plummeting roughly 97 percent, with annual costs totalling £210m on average.
But Scottish and Northern Irish airports had received "substantial" relief from their respective devolved governments.
Airports in the two British countries had "been forgotten" and the lack of measures were "constraining their ability to survive" continued restrictions amid efforts to reboot the UK's economic recovery, a spokesperson said.
“That our airports have been paying £500,000 in business rates every day during the lockdown reflects that the Government simply has not grasped the severity of the challenge and threat that the pandemic has posed and continues to pose to our sector," chief executive Karen Dee said.
The statements follow a shock survey from the International Air Transport Association, which revealed that around 58 percent of people would avoid travelling due to coronavirus risks.
— ACI EUROPE (@ACI_EUROPE) July 13, 2020
Confidence in air travel would "not be re-built overnight" but new measures from the International Civil Aviation Organisation could help regain trust, IATA director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac told reporters in July.
The aviation industry could lose up to 390bn in total gross revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, ICAO data revealed.