‘Airlines on the brink without aid’

Ian Taylor

Airline leaders warned of imminent failures and wholesale job losses at the start of this week. Speaking at the Airlines 2050

Summit on Monday, Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade warned: “All airlines are, in effect, bankrupt. We’ll see failures. It’s just a matter of time, depending on balance sheets. We know the clock is ticking. “If we don’t get a test regime in

place and the government is not forthcoming with money, we’re going to see airlines go out of business.” Dale Keller, chief executive of the

UK Board of Airline Representatives agreed, warning: “We see a cliff edge coming at the end of October. The furlough scheme was a lifesaver for the industry. The Job Support Scheme is not suited to an industry that has travel restrictions. You’re almost better to let more staff go.” Loganair chief executive Jonathan

Hinkles echoed the warning, saying: “There is a limited amount of time left if the government is going to make a difference. I’m surprised we haven’t seen business failures yet. I’m not just talking about airlines but airports and ground handlers.” Alderslade insisted: “The whole

sector is frustrated. I’ve no doubt the Department for Transport knows

All airlines are, in

effect, bankrupt. If we don’t get a testing regime in place, we’ll see failures

all the issues we’re grappling with. The issue is every other sector of the economy is in the same boat.” Keller agreed: “The frustration is

real. But the government has it in its gift to look at its communications. “There is a lack of understanding

of what’s going on and because people can’t see a roadmap. If ministers decide not to release information, you get this feeling nothing is happening when actually a lot has been happening behind the scenes.” Senior aviation consultant David

Huttner of PA Consulting told the summit: “There are going to be failures. But we also see parties willing to take opportunities if debts can be restructured.” He cited the deal to resurrect Flybe, announced by the carrier’s administrators on Monday. The Flybe name has been

acquired by Thyme Opco, owned by Cyrus Capital, a joint owner of Flybe when it failed.

Taskforce opens Ian Taylor

Te government will be flexible on the type of Covid tests certified for use in the ‘test and release’ system to be recommended by its Global Travel Taskforce, meaning cheaper, quicker tests may be possible. The taskforce held a first

meeting with industry leaders last week and afterwards transport secretary Grant Shapps made clear the speed at which a Covid-test regime is set up will depend on private test providers. Public Health England will set

summit on Monday, Shapps said: “We’ve agreed on a regime based on a single test a week after arrival. We’ve worked through all the problems before setting up the taskforce. “Public Health England will set


a quality test. It’s up to the private sector to meet that. I’m hopeful it will happen quickly, but I don’t want to overpromise. The testing sector has to deliver capacity.” Pressed to confirm

testing would be ready by December 1, Shapps said: “We’re talking to more than a

dozen providers. “As long as the capacity is there,

Aviation experts

at this week’s virtual Airlines 2050 Summit

4 22 OCTOBER 2020

standards for providers to meet, meaning rapid ‘point of care’ tests which are cheaper and can provide results in 30 minutes are not ruled out. It remains to be seen whether rapid tests are certified for immediate use. NHS Covid tests require lab analysis and take up to 48 hours. Addressing an Airlines 2050

and they tell us it is, I’m hopeful.” But he insisted: “We can’t

have travel being responsible for further outbreaks. “This is a domestic regime. The

second part is an international regime working with the International Civil Aviation Organisation. On the domestic side, the work of

Transport secretary Grant Shapps declined to confirm a ‘test and release’ scheme would be ready by December 1

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