Aviation groups are calling on the UK government to boost its support for the sector during the Covid-19 crisis, warning it is "at risk of being left behind in the recovery".
In a joint letter, the trade body representing the aerospace industry, ADS Group, alongside Airlines UK and the Airport Operators Association outlined a range of measures they wanted to see introduced by Westminster to help companies “before [they] face difficult decisions affecting their workforces”.
“UK airlines have grounded hundreds of aircraft and UK airports are operating at minimal capacity. Requests for ticket refunds are outnumbering new flight bookings, our tourism industry lies dormant as visitors rightly stay at home and aerospace manufacturing faces challenges to sustain jobs and cash flow for the duration of this crisis,” the letter said.
It warned those current “dramatic impacts” of the crisis were “likely only the start” and predicted passenger demand returning slowly as consumers regained the confidence to travel and movement restrictions were lifted.
Ensuring the aviation and aerospace sectors can “quickly and fully recover” when restrictions are lifted, means the sector can also support the UK’s wider economic recovery, the groups said.
“Not only are 1.6 million jobs and £92bn in GDP dependent on aviation, aerospace and the tourism sectors, aviation is also one of the engines of the UK economy, enabling other businesses to reach customers, trade goods and build new relationships," the letter added.
"ADS, Airlines UK and the AOA welcome the steps taken so far by the UK government to support businesses. However, further urgent steps and better coordinated actions are urgently needed to support our industry’s and thus the UK’s future recovery."
As part of the joint action, the groups are calling on the government to:
The groups said the UK’s communities and visitors would “see their fortunes restored more rapidly” if aviation can quickly recover from the impact of the pandemic and a sharp bounce back would also help the country’s economic aims once its full exit from the EU has been finalised.
“The UK government has an opportunity to make both those things possible, if it acts decisively now,” they urged.