Continued from page 40

Northern Ireland, fishing rights and state aid are sorted out. Now he said: “Northern

Ireland has become a sticking point again. Fishing will be sorted at the last minute. The key issue is ‘a level playing field’ on state aid. The EU needs to see what the UK plans to do on state aid.” Ruparel suggested: “The

October deadline [for a deal] has a bit of flexibility. [But] we need to see some movement in September. If we don’t, no deal becomes more likely.” He added any deal would be

“relatively narrow and shallow and not that relevant for a lot of sectors”, arguing: “A lot of changes businesses are planning for are going to happen in either scenario – [including] changes at borders.” But he said: “More work

needs to be done in preparation for no deal.” Ruparal noted preparation among businesses “varies by firm and by sector” and said: “People have been dealing with Covid and have been stretched on time and resource.” If there is no deal, Ruparel

noted: “One of the biggest implications will be changes in the way people cross borders.” But he insisted: “They will

agree on aviation. The two sides start from the same place. Both recognise this is a huge area. I don’t think huge disruption is likely, but it requires goodwill on both sides.”

Treasury’s abolition of tax-free sales is a ’hammer blow’

The government was accused of delivering a fresh “hammer blow” to airports by abolishing tax-free sales. The Airport Operators

October 14, 2020 (09.00-17.00) Brought to you virtually

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38 17 SEPTEMBER 2020

Association (AOA) condemned the move announced by the Treasury on September 11 saying it “needlessly harms an industry in peril”. Tax-free sales of goods not

subject to customs duty at airports,

ports and Eurostar stations will end from January 1 as the Brexit transition period ends. The Treasury said: “The scheme

is a costly relief which does not benefit the whole of Britain equally.” Duty-free sales, currently

available only when travelling to non-EU countries, will be extended to travellers to and from the EU and duty-free allowances on alcohol will “significantly increase”. However, travellers returning

from the EU will no longer be able to bring back unlimited amounts of alcohol, tobacco or other goods with- out declaring them and paying tax.

Tax-free sales will end on January 1

AOA chief executive Karen

Dee accused the government of “a complete lack of awareness of the jobs and businesses on the line”, saying: “Our industry can scarcely afford another hammer blow like this.”

UK aviation ‘fighting for its survival’ warns Cruz

Ian Taylor

Airline bosses issued a series of stark warnings to the government last week. British Airways chief executive

Alex Cruz called the airline’s survival into question, warning BA “can survive only if the government works with us”. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary

dismissed the winter market as a “write-off” and Heathrow chief John Holland-Kaye warned the threat to air- port risks “a similar impact to what we saw with mining towns in the 1980s”.

BA’s Alex Cruz Cruz accused the government

of “sitting on its hands” and called for the immediate start of a Covid- testing trial on passengers to allow services to the US to resume. Holland-Kaye said: “We’ve

seen no support at all from the government.” Cruz warned: “The sector is

fighting for its very survival. Six months into the pandemic we’re still flying just 30% of our schedule.” He said: “We know people want

to travel. But without a rigorous, reliable coronavirus testing

programme, people’s plans are being grounded. Heathrow has testing stations set up and ready to go, but their teams are standing idle. Thirty other countries have introduced airport testing to unlock the problem, why can’t we?” Writing in the Daily Telegraph,

Cruz repeated demands laid out by airline leaders in a letter to the prime minister last week calling for an immediate trial of testing, a greater list of regional corridors than the ‘islands’ policy announced last week and a 12-month waiver of APD. The letter from the heads of

easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, Wizz Air, Tui Airways, and Airlines UK as well as BA urged Johnson to bring in Covid tests for arrivals by the end of this month. O’Leary forecast winter prices

would be “aggressively down”. Airlines UK chief executive Tim

Alderslade warned: “Airlines and airports will go out of business if we can’t resume international travel.”

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