Airports can get up to £8 million in business rates relief – Heathrow wants a lot more

The government’s financial Airport Support Scheme has now opened to applications but was swiftly criticised by Heathrow and other airport operators. Under the scheme, airports and baggage handlers can apply for up to £8m in business rates relief. But Heathrow has a business rates bill of around £120m per year, so the £8 million will cover little of it. Indeed it is less than the money it is burning through in two days – which is around £5 million per day.  Holland-Kaye said “the Treasury has yet to explain why it has handed out £3 billion of rates relief to retail businesses that didn’t need it while ignoring the worsening crisis facing our industry.” The government announced the scheme back in November when international travel was banned under the second national lockdown, and we now have the 3r lockdown.  Most airports are grateful for the help, but want more – as the £8 million was arranged before the current tight Covid travel restrictions. Thousands of retailers have received government help with business rates, including many that have done very well during the pandemic. Some are returning the money; many are not.
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Heathrow boss slams government’s ‘discriminatory’ airport support scheme

30 January 2021  (City AM)
By Edward Thicknesse

The government’s financial support scheme for airports has today opened to applications but was swiftly slammed by Heathrow and fellow operators.

Under the scheme, airports and baggage handlers can apply for up to £8m in business rates relief.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced that the support was now available via Twitter.

But the boss of Heathrow Airport, which has a business rates bill of around £120m, said that the support was “wholly inadequate and discriminatory”.

John Holland-Kaye said: “The Airport Support Scheme is wholly inadequate and discriminatory – the “relief” will cover less than a month of Heathrow’s business rates bill and is less money than we are burning through in just two days.

“Meanwhile, the Treasury has yet to explain why it has handed out £3 billion of rates relief to retail businesses that didn’t need it while ignoring the worsening crisis facing our industry.”

The government announced the scheme back in November when international travel was banned under the second national lockdown.

Southend Airport boss Glyn Jones welcomed the help, but indicated that it was now inadequate.

“With our airport effectively closed again by the Government’s travel restrictions, much more significant support is now needed to help us through the current crisis.

“This is essential to safeguard jobs and ensure London Southend is ready to play its part in boosting London and South Essex’s post-pandemic and post-Brexit economic recovery,” Jones added.

Despite a brief respite over the winter, ministers have now doubled down on travel restrictions, with all the UK’s quarantine-free “travel corridors” suspended.

In addition, incoming travellers from over 30 countries now have to quarantine in hotels for 10 days due to fears over new variants of the coronavirus.

Holland-Kaye went on: “Aviation is the lifeblood of the modern economy – our European rivals get it, which is why they’ve already pumped billions into their aviation sector to get them through the crisis.

“The UK Government’s ambitions for Global Britain and levelling-up will only happen if aviation survives – now we need 100% business rates relief, an extension to the furlough scheme and a roadmap to reopening borders safely.”

https://www.cityam.com/heathrow-boss-slams-governments-discriminatory-airport-support-scheme/

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See also:

English airports set for up to £8 million in government help

Airports and ground handling companies in England are set to receive up to £8 million in Government help as the Airport Support Scheme comes online.

As we reported earlier this month, the government announced the Airport Support Scheme last year and then more recently said it would be in place by the end of the financial year but applications have now officially opened.

The emergency funding is designed to help airports get through the Coronavirus travel restrictions and preserve jobs and comes as the Airport Operators Association (AOA), which represents UK Airports warned of airport closures if airports don’t get help.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement saying “The Airport Support Scheme is now LIVE! Airports and ground handlers across England can apply for up to £8 million of financial support from today”

The scheme has been welcomed but airports warned that it may not be enough.

Dave Lees, Bristol Airport Chief, said: “The aviation sector has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Bristol Airport, along with airports across the UK, has never had the opportunity to recover. Today’s Government announcement is a welcome relief during what continues to be the most challenging period in our history.

“However, since the Government’s original rates relief announcement at the end of last year, the outlook for 2021 has worsened significantly. It is therefore crucial that today’s announcement is just the first step towards restarting the sector and safeguarding the connectivity and prosperity of the South West. We will continue to highlight the urgent need for more significant economic support and importantly a clear roadmap to recovery. When the time is right and travel restrictions ease, Bristol Airport will be ready to provide the essential air connectivity to Europe and beyond again, which is what our customers are telling us they want.”

Southend Airport Chief Executive, Glyn Jones, said: “With our airport effectively closed again by the Government’s travel restrictions, much more significant support is now needed to help us through the current crisis.”

The boss of the UK’s largest, London Heathrow was more critical and called it “wholly inadequate and discriminatory”

Heathrow Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye, said: “The Airport Support Scheme is wholly inadequate and discriminatory

“the ‘relief’ will cover less than a month of Heathrow’s business rates bill and is less money than we are burning through in just two days.”

Airports in Scotland and Wales are also not eligible as the devolved governments are responsible for coronavirus support to the industry. In Wales the only commercial airport, Cardiff Airport, is actually owned by the Welsh Government.

https://ukaviation.news/english-airports-set-for-up-to-8-million-in-government-help/


Covid: Airport support scheme to open in England

17 January 2021  (BBC)

A financial support scheme for airports in England will open this month, the government says, as the aviation sector faces new Covid travel curbs.

Aviation minister Robert Courts said the move was a response to the closure of all UK air corridors from Monday.

The aim was to provide grants by the end of this financial year, he said.

Industry groups had warned there was only so long airports could “run on fumes”, following the announcement of the new quarantine rules.

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In a tweet, Mr Courts said the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme “will help airports reduce” additional costs faced due to the pandemic and that further details would follow soon.

The scheme had first been announced in November, but without a set start date. It will involve grants of up to £8m per applicant, to be used to cover fixed costs, such as business rates.

In a statement at the time, the Airport Operators Association said the scheme would be a relief. However, it said support equivalent to business rates would only go so far and with the pandemic crisis deepening, a broader package of support was needed for all four nations, to see the sector through the next few months.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said the measures would “provide much-needed support to many embattled airports, helping them through the challenging months ahead”.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55692486

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Heathrow demands business rates relief as passenger numbers plunge through Covid-19 restrictions

By Jim Armitage@ArmitageJim  (Standard)
11 January 2021

Heathrow’s chief executive today ramped up his calls for relief on business rates to be extended from pubs and retailers to airports as he reported on another Covid-decimated month for his industry.

John Holland-Kaye said passenger numbers were down 82.9% to 1.1 million in December as travel restrictions kept people from flying.

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He pointed out that while some sectors such as supermarkets were being given business rates relief while posting record profits, airports were enduring appalling conditions but getting nothing.

Meanwhile, he added, airports had been hit by the Government’s decision to make the UK the only country in the EU to abolish Duty Free shopping to international travellers.

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Then there is a lot about travel restrictions etc in November ….

https://www.standard.co.uk/business/heathrow-business-rates-relief-passenger-numbers-quarantine-covid19-b822355.html

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Chancellor’s business rates subsidy of £8 million covers just 7% of Heathrow’s £120m bill

Heathrow is angry that it is having to pay most of its business rates, while supermarkets and many other businesses are given a 100% waiver.  The government has given airports a subsidy of up to £8 million each this year, to pay their business rates. That is enough to cover the whole amount, for small airports. But Heathrow says it only covers 7% of their rates bill, of almost £120 million, part of which it pays to Hillingdon Borough Council. Heathrow is struggling with a drop of around 82% in its passenger number. It is having to furlough its entire senior management team except its chief executive, to cut costs. Gatwick is probably due to pay £29m in business rates this year, while Manchester and Stansted face bills of £14m and £12m respectively, so the £8 million will not cover their rates bills either. Supermarkets have been given around £1.9 billion in rates help, because initially it was feared there could be problems with food supply. In fact supermarkets have done very well out of Covid, with less food eaten out of the home. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “… we have supported them throughout this crisis through the job retention scheme, loans and tax deferrals.” 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/11/chancellors-business-rates-subsidy-of-8-million-covers-just-7-of-heathrows-120m-bill/
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