The Treasury has been urged to spend millions of pounds maintaining aircraft that have been grounded by the UK’s travel restrictions.
An “aircraft furlough” scheme would subsidise the cost of keeping planes in working order, under plans proposed by British Airways. Airlines UK, a trade body, also issued a plea to extend Rishi Sunak’s job retention scheme for the aviation sector until 2022. However, Treasury sources downplayed this as a realistic possibility.
The renewed request for state support comes with aviation bosses incensed by the slow progress of reopening Britain’s borders. On Thursday, BA put thousands of workers back on furlough.
Portugal was the only realistic holiday destination included on the Government’s “green list” in May. It was then removed at the start of June.
Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic boss, said: “Failure to provide clear and transparent guidance on the methodology and data the Government is basing their decisions on undermines the traffic light framework and damages consumer and business confidence.”
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said: “The UK is cut off from almost the entire world with closed borders, trade routes from Heathrow grounded and the very freedom that vaccination offers to the world is being denied to British citizens.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “A form of ‘aircraft furlough’ would help ensure carriers can retain the assets needed, including aircraft, to ramp up capacity again when finally able to fly at meaningful levels.”
A spokesman for the Government said: “We continue to work with the aviation sector to help them navigate this difficult time.”