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Airlines call for extension of furlough scheme

·2-min read

Furlough support for aviation workers should be extended until April next year to protect jobs over the winter season, airlines have said.

Airlines UK, a trade association representing UK carriers, said airlines have made pre-tax losses running into billions of pounds and announced more than 30,000 job cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the industry body described the impact of the crisis as “devastating”.

The bulk of £7.2 billion of Government support for airlines has “essentially been taken on as new debt”, it said.

“No sector would be able to continue to accumulate debt in this way for much longer and hope to be able to recover.”

The furlough scheme, which pays up to 80% of wages, is due to end on September 30, but the letter called for it to be extended until the end of April 2022 for people in aviation, to cover the traditionally unprofitable winter months.

Airlines UK also urged Mr Sunak to delay repayment deadlines for pandemic loan schemes, extend business rates relief to airlines, and offer restart grants.

The letter continued: “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.”

The removal of Portugal from the Government’s green travel list means there are no major viable tourist destinations which people from the UK can visit without needing to quarantine when they return.

A report by the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce in April recommended that a green watchlist is created to identify countries most at risk of moving from green to amber, but that has not yet happened.

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