Holland-Kaye: Airport support scheme “simply not enough”

The boss of Heathrow responds to the announcement of a support plan for the aviation sector

The UK government has announced plans to open the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme later this month, as the sector continues to deal with yesterday’s travel corridor closure.

Initially announced in November of last year, the programme was initiated following calls from the aviation industry for more support amid tightening travel restrictions and lockdowns.

Heathrow Airport
Photo Heathrow Airport

In a tweet, Robert Courts, the government’s aviation minister, said: “I know the impact this will have on the aviation sector, so to help limit this I am announcing our scheme to provide support to airports and ground operations will open this month.

“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,” he added.

Since the announcement, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Airport’s CEO has weighed in on the programme of support saying that it is “simply not enough”.

“The Airport Support Scheme is inadequate assistance for the UK’s large airports which are facing a worsening crisis,” explained Holland-Kaye. “Heathrow has cut all non-Government costs by 40%, including halving managerial roles. The Government’s offer of £8 million represents less than 4% of the total rates bill of over £200 million still being paid at Heathrow by the airport, airlines and other aviation businesses despite the collapse of international travel.”

He added that with the effective closure of the border and “continued lack of sufficient support from government”, the viability of thousands of jobs supported by the UK’s aviation industry is threatened.

“The Government needs to help sustain the aviation sector that will be vital to facilitating the UK’s economic recovery through international trade.”  

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for London Stansted also highlighted the importance of receiving more support from the government to enable a full recovery: “While we understand and support the current restrictions, they are another example of the unprecedented impact that COVID-19 has had on aviation. These measures are necessary, but we also need the government to set out as soon as possible how it will support the sector now and ease travel restrictions when public health has improved.”