Airports ‘may cut 20,000 jobs’ unless rates relaxed

Airports are set to axe up to 20,000 jobs unless the Government intervenes by waiving business rates to help them cope with the Covid-19 crisis, ministers have been warned.

The Airports Operators Association (AOA) today announces its appeal for urgent business rates relief to bring the industry in line with the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors and other nations that have benefited from such support.

It says the failure of the Government to provide business rates relief has made the financial challenge faced by airports significantly worse after a near-collapse in passenger numbers since March.

It is seeking a year’s relief from business rates for all airports in England and Wales after independent forecasts that it will take up to four years for passenger numbers to return to pre-Covid levels despite the Government’s easing of quarantine with “air bridges.”

The AOA says airports in England have paid more than £70m in business rates since the start of lockdown in March despite passenger numbers being down by around 97pc. The annual cost of business rates for airports in England is more than £210m.

By contrast, airports in Scotland have been given 100 per cent rates relief for a year by the Scottish Government while those in Northern Ireland have been granted the same relief until March next year. A survey of airports found that they were anticipating up to 20,000 job losses with a further 90,000 jobs under threat in associated businesses and communities.

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