UK airports have warned that they may close “within weeks” unless the government steps in, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trade body the Airport Operators Association (AOA) has urged ministers to support airports in the country amid dwindling passenger numbers as flights are cancelled.
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This includes providing or organising emergency financing “as a measure of last resort”, suspending Air Passenger Duty for six months and allowing VAT payments to be deferred.
AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: “Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt.
“As some airlines call on the UK Government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.
“The Government must step in to see airports across the four home nations through the current crisis, and make an unequivocal commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry.
“For the sake of the UK economy it is essential for the UK Government to catch up to its peers across the continent and provide support to the sector and the wider economy through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief.”
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Airlines have cancelled thousands of flights and announced plans to ground the majority of their aircraft due to travel restrictions and the drop in demand for flights.
Travel association ABTA also added: “Without support, perfectly viable UK travel companies employing tens of thousands of people are at risk of going bankrupt.”
Heathrow Airport said on Monday it is taking “immediate steps to safeguard the financial resilience of our business including the protection of jobs”.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye is to forego his salary for the coming months, and recruitment has been frozen.
There has already been chaos at airports around the world as frantic tourists try to get home.
Travellers in the US faced seven hour queues after the US banned Brits.
Thousands of tourists in Spain also scrambled to get flights after the country went into lockdown.
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