UK support for aviation industry lacking, says AOA

AOA has called on the UK government to better support the country’s aviation industry as countries across the globe implement significant supportive measures.

UK aviation requires support from UK government

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to drastically impact the global aviation industry, the Airport Operators Association (AOA) has called for the UK government to do more to support the country’s aviation industry following the reveal that the UK government is falling behind other major economies in supporting its aviation sector.

IATA estimates show that the UK could see 113.5 million fewer passengers travelling through its airports in 2020 – a drop of more than a third when compared to 2019, which saw 297 million passengers, according to figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority.

AOA’s call for better aviation support from the UK government comes as countries across the globe begin to implement measures to support their aviation sectors during the COVID-19 crisis.

Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “As an island nation, we are reliant on aviation to facilitate our trade and to enable businesses and consumers to travel domestically and internationally. More than half the UK population flew at least once last year and 40 per cent by value of our non-EU trade travels by air. More than a million people are employed directly or indirectly in aviation, and many more jobs rely on our sector.”

Dee continued: “Yet, the UK government is lagging behind its international competitors when it comes to safeguarding our vital industry for the future. Aviation was at the forefront of the impact of COVID-19, but we appear to be at the back of the queue when it comes to government providing targeted support.”

She added: “As passenger volumes approach zero, airports are downscaling operations across the UK and, in some cases, have announced temporary closures. Without passengers, an airport cannot run sustainably. Yet it is vital for lifeline services, freight and other critical services – such as post, search and rescue and the maintenance and operation of offshore wind and North Sea oil and gas stations – that airports stay open. Other countries have recognised this – it is time for the UK government to step up to the plate.”

Worldwide measures to support aviation


In the U.S., airlines have been given access to $58 billion, split evenly between loans and payroll grants.


In Australia, a $715 million relief package has been dedicated to the Australian aviation industry, involving the refunding and ongoing waiving of a range of government charges on the industry – including aviation fuel excise, air services charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges.

There will be an upfront estimated benefit of $159 million to Australian airlines for the reimbursement of applicable charges paid by domestic airlines since 1 February 2020.


In Norway:

  • The government is fully compensating airports for the loss of airport charges
  • The government has suspended the air passenger tax (equivalent to UK Air Passenger Duty) until 13 October 2020
  • A domestic airline will receive £3.1 million per month to maintain critical routes until further notice
  • The state is offering loan guarantees of £472 million to airlines registered in Norway.

France and Spain

In Spain, a credit line of up to €400 million has been outlined for the travel sector – including aviation – granted by the state-owned Credit Corporation.

Similarly, in France, the government has set out €700 million of tax aid to the airline sector.

Denmark and Sweden

In Denmark and Sweden:

  • Joint state-backed credit guarantees worth a total of £243 million to enable airline SAS to borrow money on the commercial market
  • In Sweden, Swedish airlines are offered credit guarantees worth a maximum of £415 million
  • In Denmark, £184 million has been dedicated to cover travel cancelled due to COVID-19.


In Finland, the government has agreed to provide a state guarantee of €600 million to assist the national carrier.

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