Britain still working on airlines support package – union boss


Britain is still working to develop a package of government support for its airlines, with the most likely outcome a range of measures to suit the carriers’ different needs, the head of the country’s pilots union BALPA said on Monday.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said last Tuesday that he would hold discussions over support packages for airlines and airports but there has been no announcement on the outcome so far.

UK airlines such as easyJet (EZJ.L), IAG-owned British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have started to ground hundreds of planes, and travel restrictions mean they have no revenues coming in, putting thousands of jobs and the future of the industry at risk.

BALPA pilot union chief Brian Strutton told BBC radio on Monday that discussions were ongoing but it was “very, very complicated”.

“The chancellor and the secretary of state for transport are still discussing the possibly of a rescue package for airlines and ministers have spoken to me and the other transport unions,” he said.

“There are different airline ownership and control structures, different needs of different airlines,” he added.

“(The government support) is likely to be different options and a package, a suite of different things that they may be able to provide, a combination of direct investment, loans and guarantees to suit the different airlines.”

A report in the Financial Times on Saturday said that the British government was planning to buy equity stakes in airlines and other companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

IAG has in the past rejected the idea of government support, and unlike easyJet and Virgin has not asked for it, but BALPA’s Strutton said he thought they would be at the “front of the queue”.

Source: Reuters.