Airlines UK has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend government support for the aviation sector into 2022.
In a letter to Sunak, Airlines UK chief Tim Alderslade said the sector needed 100% furlough support for aviation workers until at least April 2022 "to protect skilled aviation jobs over the unprofitable winter season".
He also asked for urgent clarity existing support will not taper off from the end of June.
"If a meaningful reopening is not possible during the summer given current government policy and application of the Global Travel Taskforce recommendations, then targeted economic support will be essential to ensure UK airlines are able to reach the point when a restart is possible, in order to protect many tens of thousands of jobs," said Alderslade.
The trade body, which represents UK registered airlines, is also seeking an extension of repayment deadlines for cash allocated by the government’s Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
It also wants a further extension of business rates relief. Additionally, Airlines UK has put forward a proposal for a new restart grant scheme based on the surplus capacity airlines are maintaining, relative to 2019, but are unable to operate. This could also include a form of "aircraft furlough".
"The impact of Covid-19 on international air travel has been devastating," said Alderslade. "It has curbed tourism, grounded airlines, stalled trade and investment, and separated friends and family.
Alderslade said the UK travel sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic, with ONS data showing overall output is down 90% – causing a 9.9% GDP hit to the wider economy.
He said airlines alone had announced more than 30,000 job cuts, with pre-tax losses running into the billions of pounds.
"If the government is serious about driving economic recovery, the framework must be adjusted by the [Global Travel Taskforce] checkpoint on 28 June at the latest," Alderslade added.
"The best way for aviation to recover and support the wider economy reliant upon our air connectivity, is to be able to operate again.
"Today, the UK is being cut off from the rest of the world, many of whose citizens are being enabled to travel and do business internationally again safely, including across Europe and from the United States."