UK airline and crew interest groups are trying to allay concerns over planned government support to the industry after confusion emerged over the nature and extent of financial measures for the sector.
Pilot union BALPA insists that recent suggestions that the government is backpedalling on plans to assist the industry are “misleading”.
“Discussions about unique measures for individual airlines are ongoing,” it states.
UK chancellor Rishi Sunak had informed Parliament on 17 March that, as part of emergency funding measures to counter the impact of the coronavirus crisis, he would be discussing a “specific potential support package” for airlines and airports with UK transport secretary Grant Shapps.
He added that they were “actively engaging” with companies and airports in the sector to “establish what support is required”.
Sunak was questioned as to whether the government would take a stake in airlines, but he declined to comment on “specific interventions in any particular company”.
But on 24 March the Airport Operators Association indicated that the government had opted not to provide a single, comprehensive package, but rather chosen to adopt a case-by-case approach, and described the decision as a “U-turn”.
“We’re surprised by where we find ourselves today,” says chief executive Karen Dee, insisting that the government’s apparent decision was “not feasible”.
Trade association Airlines UK says, however, that the government is to enter negotiations over “additional bespoke support” to accompany the economy-wide measures it has previously disclosed.
BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton says that out-of-context information extracted from the discussions has led to an “erroneous conclusion” that the government is not intending to provide help to airlines.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution, due to the different structures and needs of each airline,” he stresses. “Each airline will need to be reviewed to ensure a good use of taxpayers’ money.”