The aviation sector has blasted chancellor Rishi Sunak for failing to offer any concessions on Air Passenger Duty (APD) in his Budget speech on Wednesday (3 March).
Aviation’s airport and airline associations said that while extensions to the furlough scheme and the ongoing business rates holiday were undoubtedly welcome, the measures announced by the chancellor weren’t enough to stave off further damage to the industry.
"The Budget is blind to the impact of the near-complete shutdown of international travel," said Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA).
“While the extensions of the Job Retention Scheme and airport business rates relief are very welcome, they are not nearly enough given the scale of Covid-19’s impact.
"Combined with the long‑haul APD increase, which is a very damaging blow to an industry already on its knees, this is not a Budget for a global Britain."
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines, said the continued absence of the Treasury’s promised consultation on APD – announced a year ago by Sunak – "was a source of much frustration and bewilderment".
"We welcome the extension of the Job Retention Scheme, which has already saved tens of thousands of jobs across UK aviation," said Alderslade.
"This will enable carriers to retain staff as we await the restart of the sector, and provide much-needed certainty to airlines needing to make critical planning decisions over the coming months.
"Ultimately, it is the reopening of international travel that will ensure we still have an aviation sector, but we are clear that without a summer season airlines will require a bespoke support package that goes beyond loans."