One single event may have changed the world for ever. The displays of altruism, the efforts of volunteers and central government support around the globe have been incredible. And yet the UK’s aviation industry has been given a bum deal, again.
At such times of crisis, allocating resource and supporting businesses across the UK is crucial, and yet the chancellor has decided the UK’s airlines should fend for themselves. Only when those airlines are about to return the keys will the chancellor consider support. Some have suggested the airlines are fat cats full of cash, a few are, but most are rattling loose change in their pockets.
The last few weeks have, if nothing else, confirmed that the world is a small place. Repatriation flights, social media pleas for help to return home and an urgent and growing need to move medical supplies from China are sub-plots to the bigger Covid-19 crisis. Everyone appears to have suddenly mellowed, a greater perspective of what is right and wrong prevails and a greater sense of “moral fairness” seems to exist. Unless, of course, you happen to be a UK-based airline.
In the last week, the US administration (a loosely used phrase) responded to their airline industry seeking a US$50 billion support programme, and indications are that at least some of that will be forthcoming.
That some of the world’s most profitable airlines are seeking such levels of support says much about where we are. The Norwegian government has stepped in to save Norwegian, providing funding through to the end of 2020 through a mix of loans and convertible bonds. Alitalia, a carrier permanently in intensive care, has performed a miracle, with the Italian government effectively buying the airline back; so much for state aid rules.