Airlines 'may not survive' coronavirus crisis

 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that ministers will be sympathetic to pleas for financial help that could run into billions of pounds from sections of the aviation industry at risk from the coronavirus pandamic.

With many airlines already hit by a drop in demand, the extension of a ban on entering the US to people (other than US residents and citizens) travelling from the UK and Ireland is expected to have a major impact on airlines.

Updated: Virgin Atlantic said on Monday it will reduce its schedule, 'prioritising core routes based on customer demand', with a reduction of approximately 80% of flights per day by 26 March and about 75% of its fleet parked. At points in April this will go up to 85%.

Staff will be asked to take eight weeks unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months' salary, 'to drastically reduce costs without job losses'.

Europe’s biggest airline, Ryanair, said a full grounding of its fleet ‘cannot be ruled out’.

It was reported that the chairman of Virgin Group, which owns Virgin Atlantic, was to write to ministers to call for up to £7.5bn of emergency support to the UK aviation industry.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said: 'The current challenges faced by the UK airline sector are truly unprecedented, and stark. Even just days ago, the idea that airlines across the globe would be cancelling thousands of flights and grounding aircraft on the current scale would have been unthinkable.

'Yet, this is the situation we see today, with carriers managing both the devastating impact of the collapse in demand for flying as people stay home, alongside the daily operational challenges of responding to border closures, travel restrictions and new health protocols.

'The situation is now truly critical. COVID-19 risks a lasting and irreversible effect on the health of the UK’s aviation industry – the third largest in the world – and the future for UK airlines is indeed now uncertain.'

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Shapps said: ‘Obviously it’s a big concern that airlines are right at the forefront of this crisis, because of course travel was the very first thing internationally which was hit. I’m meeting with the airlines, the airports, in fact the whole of the transport sector right across the board this week.

‘And I’m taking that information and playing it into the economic and business committee that the chancellor will be chairing from today. Our view is, whether you’re a business or indeed an individual in this country, with COVID-19 good businesses shouldn’t be put out of business and people should be able to continue after we get through this crisis and that is what we’ll be aiming to achieve.’

The calls for financial help received backing from the Unite union, which represents tens of thousands of workers throughout the aviation industry. Unite said it was ‘calling on the Government to listen to UK airlines and provide immediate support for the whole sector, in order to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic’.

Assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: ‘The Government must act decisively and act now, so that when the coronavirus crisis ends there will still be a UK aviation industry.

‘Up and down the UK Unite is working with airlines, airports and the supply chain, to preserve jobs and companies for the future and it is essential that the Government plays its part.

‘The challenges faced by the UK aviation industry at this moment are entirely unprecedented and all solutions to support the sector must be fully considered.’

International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns British Airways, does not appear to be seeking cash support but chief executive Willie Walsh has agreed to delay his retirement.

IAG said available seat kilometres in the first quarter of 2020 are now expected to be reduced by around 7.5% compared to last year. For April and May, it plans to reduce capacity by at least 75% compared to the same period in 2019.

However, it said that it has ‘strong liquidity’ of €9.3bn.

”Local
Ryanair issued a picture of one of its jets on the tarmac

Ryanair said on Monday morning that for April and May it now expects to reduce its seat capacity by up to 80%, ‘and a full grounding of the fleet cannot be ruled out’.

It added that it is taking immediate action to reduce operating expenses, and improve cash flows.

In a statement, the low-cost carrier said: ‘The Ryanair Group has strong liquidity, with strong cash and cash equivalents of over €4bn as at 12 March. Our focus now is on completing as much of the scheduled flying program as is permitted by National Governments over the next 7 days, so that we can repatriate customers, where possible, even as flight bans are imposed and [air traffic control} and essential airport services are reduced.’

CEO Michael O’Leary said: ‘Ryanair is a resilient airline group, with a very strong balance sheet, and substantial cash liquidity, and we can, and will, with appropriate and timely action, survive through a prolonged period of reduced or even zero flight schedules, so that we are adequately prepared for the return to normality, which will come about sooner rather than later as EU Governments take unprecedented action to restrict the spread of Covid-19.’

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Street Cleansing Operative Driver (Large Goods Vehicles)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£22,377 to £23,607
We are looking to recruit staff for both our day service and evening service. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Environmental Health Practitioner (Pollution)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£39,774.00 - £42,684.00
This is an excellent opportunity for individual who is looking to gain management experience.  Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Policy Planner

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£32,643 – £45,704 depending on skills
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Strategic Director Environment and Climate Change

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Housing Lead)

Mole Valley District Council
£37,821 - £42,329
An exciting opportunity for a Senior Environmental Health Officer to join our forward thinking Environmental Health Partnership Oxted, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
The Head of Operations is a key leader in the Senior Management Team. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Senior Engineer (Development Control)

Wrexham County Borough Council
£36,876 - £39,782 per annum
We are looking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified candidate to work within the Contracts and Engineering team Wrexham (Wrecsam)
Recuriter: Wrexham County Borough Council

Strategic Director Growth and Regeneration

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Funeral Operative (As and When)

Brent Council
£24,462 - £26,274 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
The person will not need previous experience in funeral services as full training will be given but experience would be an advantage. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Senior Engineer – Transport Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£38,800 - £52,600
This is an exciting opportunity to improve road safety and create healthy streets in a busy and dynamic central London borough. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Environmental Health Officer / Health and Safety Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum plus performance related pay
The ideal candidate will have a detailed knowledge/understanding of Health and Safety legislation.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Commercial Officer

Rossendale Borough Council
£25,801 - £29,636
We are keen to improve our recycling levels, tackle the climate change agenda and take pride in our open spaces. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Principal Electrical Asset Officer

Birmingham City Council
£34,788-£42,683
The role requires the post holder to be a key technical specialist for the Authority’s Highways Electrical Asset Management function, providing... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Highways & Drainage Team Manager

Newport City Council
£37,849 - £40,760
You will be skilled at analysing multiple sources of information, making excellent decisions, and driving difficult situations towards a... Newport (Casnewydd)
Recuriter: Newport City Council

Street Works Compliance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative (Street Lighting) Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice x 3

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Safety, Health & Environment Technician Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director, Environment & Regeneration

Brent Council
Circa £155,000
Brent is the Borough of Cultures - the most diverse in London - and as a Council we believe in delivering for our communities. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council