While UK airports have welcomed the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme, which opened for applications on Friday 29 January to assist commercial airports and ground handlers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, more significant support is being called for.

The UK Government’s multimillion-pound support scheme, for which applications close on 21 February, has been set up to support the aviation sector while the government continues to roll out its vaccination programme.

Commercial airports and ground handlers are able to apply for up to £8 million each to support fixed costs while travel restrictions remain in place, successful applicants can expect to receive their funding by the end of this financial year.

However, Karen Dee, Airport Operators Association’s Chief Executive underlined that when the support scheme was originally announced, the business rate relief was, “very welcome and came alongside a real hope for an initial recovery through the Test-to-Release Scheme. However, the pandemic took a turn for the worse and the outlook for 2021 has worsened significantly.” With airports effectively closed again by the Government’s recently tightened travel restrictions, AOA is now calling for much more significant support to protect jobs and ensure airports are fighting fit to boost the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

Dee also highlighted that while revenues have dropped off a cliff due to the lack of passenger traffic, most airports have remained open, sustaining consistent losses for nearly 12 months, in order to facilitate essential freight, emergency services, military and offshore oil, gas and wind flights.

The Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme is open for applications until 21 February 2021.

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