The UK Government has announced that it will financially support the country’s airports before the end of March, following the aviation industry’s fervent plea for support due to the new Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Aviation minister Robert Courts announced the government’s plan to introduce a new support programme, called Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme, this month.
Taking to social media, Courts announced: “The Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme will help airports reduce their costs and we will be aiming to provide grants before the end of this financial year.”
Without any initial date, the scheme was announced in November 2020 for the first time.
Under the scheme, grants of up to £8m per applicant will be given for covering fixed costs such as business rates.
More details in connection with the scheme will be disclosed in the coming days.
Gatwick Airport said that the aid will help in preserving jobs at a time when passenger footfall has dropped drastically due to the ongoing pandemic, reported Reuters.
Before the announcement, Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said that the administration had to move beyond existing support, including a momentary exemption from local property taxes.
Dee added: “Relief from regulatory, policing and air traffic control expenses would help.”
No support for airlines was cited by Courts, which have benefited from general government furlough programmes but have obtained some direct backing.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade has also called for relaxation on travel rules by Easter, before the peak holiday period of spring and summer.
Alderslade was quoted by Reuters as saying: “Airlines have been staying in business by taking on billions of pounds of debt, which will need to be paid back.”
According to new rules starting at 4am GMT on 18 January, all travellers to Britain will be required to test negative for Covid-19 three days prior to travel.
They will also have to undergo home quarantine for ten days on arrival.
Recently, a ban on passengers from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde came into force after a new variant was identified in Brazil.