The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has criticised the government’s attitude towards the aviation industry during coronavirus crisis.
In a letter to the industry, chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said HMRC would look at individual cases and the department of transport could discuss industry-wide measures.
“Given the significant importance of the aviation sector to our economy and economic recovery, the government is prepared to enter negotiations with individual companies seeking bespoke support as a last resort, having exhausted other options.
“However, further taxpayer support would only be possible if all commercial avenues have been fully explored, including raising further capital from existing investors and discussing arrangements with financial stakeholders.”
He said Air Passenger Duty (APD) will also be reduced.
This comes as some airlines have cancelled routes and airports have seen passenger numbers plummet.
“After having publicly announced a support package for airports and airlines, we’re surprised by where we find ourselves today,” said Karen Dee, chief executive of the AOA.
“Our industry will now have to fight on its own to protect its workforce and its future.”
She stressed airports are providing lifeline services to island communities in the UK and freight services for medical supplies.
Dee said: “All of that is now put at risk by the government’s decision. While countries across Europe have recognised the vital role airports play and are stepping into the breach, the UK government’s decision to take a case-by-case approach with dozens of UK airports is simply not feasible to provide the support necessary in the coming days.
“Not only does the decision today leave airports struggling to provide critical services, it will hamper the UK recovery.”
Any help package should include business rates relief, a suspension of banks and bondholders’ performance-based covenants and relief for airport policing costs, she added.
A spokesperson from the government said: "The aviation sector is important to the UK economy, and will be able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the chancellor in recent days, including a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees and VAT deferrals.
"We are continuing to work closely with the sector and are willing to consider the situation of individual firms, so long as all other government schemes have been explored and all commercial options exhausted, including raising capital from existing investors."