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Aviation industry ‘neglected from day one of pandemic’ claims airports boss

PUBLISHED: 11:58 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:43 02 November 2020

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, has slammed the government's approach to his industry during the pandemic  Picture: MAG

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, has slammed the government's approach to his industry during the pandemic Picture: MAG

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An airports boss has blasted the government for broadcasting its latest travel ban plans on social media – and leaving the industry to “fend for itself”.

A busy Stansted Airport before the pandemic  Picture: STANSTED AIRPORTA busy Stansted Airport before the pandemic Picture: STANSTED AIRPORT

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted airport owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG), lashed out at the government’s approach to the latest coronavirus restrictions and urged it to act quickly to secure the industry amid fears of major job losses as it announced an almost complete ban on travel while it tries to get to grips with the outbreak.

“Twitter is not the place where you want to find out that the government is effectively shutting down the business you run,” he said.

MORE – Nearly 400 job cuts proposed at Stansted Airport

“The fact this development was not deemed worthy of mention in the PM’s address is symbolic of the way government has neglected UK aviation...from day one of this pandemic.”

The leaks reported across social media were finally confirmed by government at 11pm “with a sentence towards the bottom of the detailed guidance that was emailed around”, he said.

Urgent government support was needed to prevent further large-scale job losses across an industry already hit by “chaotic changes in policy” throughout the pandemic, he warned.

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Dedicated support given to sectors like retail, hospitality and the rail industry, while aviation has been left to fend for itself, he said.

Business rates relief – already in place for airports in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and policing costs, as well as further support with employee costs and reform of passenger taxes to help UK airports win back routes lost during the pandemic should be put in place, he said.

“Our sector was one of the first hit by this pandemic and one of the hardest hit. Promises of specific support in recognition of this predicament were publicly made by government but never materialised,” he said.

“Tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost across the industry as a result of the situation we find ourselves in. An urgent package of support must materialise. That must include relief from business rates and policing costs.”

He warned that without support the future sustainability of parts of the sector will be in question and “UK airports and airlines will need to decide quickly what they must do to secure their future until the situation improves”, he said.

MAG – which also owns Manchester and East Midlands airports – has begun a consultation with its workforce over its proposal to cut 892 jobs as a result of the pandemic – 376 of them at Stansted.


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