The rest of the UK should follow Scotland’s lead and pledge business rate relief for the full 2021/22 financial year, Airport Operators Association chief Karen Dee has said.
Dee said the association welcomed the respite announced by Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes on Tuesday (16 February) which she hinted at when presenting the government’s latest Budget last month.
Forbes said if resources allowed, she would extend 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation properties and premises "for all of 2021/22."
"I am now in a position to provide that certainty to business," said Forbes on Tuesday. "To ensure the resources are targeted at those who need it most, we are working with councils to ensure the application process will be live ahead of bills being issued."
AOA chief executive Dee said: “Full business rate relief is a welcome boost for Scottish airports in these challenging times. With all international arrivals in Scotland having to quarantine in hotels, international aviation has come to an almost full stop, with no end in sight.
“The other UK nations should now follow suit and also implement full rate relief for all airports. Rate relief would go some way to alleviating the devastating impact of current travel restrictions."
Dee added the measures should form part of a wider support package for aviation, extending across all four UK nations – which she said should include a "pathway" out of the restrictions currently limiting the industry’s operations and guidance on how aviation can restart safely.
"Only significant financial support would ensure airports can make it through the current government-ordered shutdown of travel and be ready to support the post-pandemic economic recovery," said Dee.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will present the Westminster government’s Budget on 3 March.