Covid: Airport support scheme to open in England

The government has announced plans for a financial support scheme aimed at airports in England.

The scheme is expected to open this month in response to new travel curbs introduced to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The suspension of the travel corridors at 4am on Monday 18 January means arrivals who have departed from or transited through any country outside the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man will be required to self-isolate for 10 days.

Passengers will need to show proof of a negative coronavirus (Covid-19) test to travel to England. The emergency measures at the border are expected to be in place for at least one month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes to the UK’s travel rules at a Downing Street briefing on Friday, saying they would “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of Covid.

Aviation minister, Robert Courts, said funds were available to provide grants of up to £8 million per applicant. The government says it aims to provide grants by the end of this financial year, with more details to follow.

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 (AOA) 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.

The travel industry said closing the travel corridors was understandable due to the health emergency but warned it would deepen the crisis for the sector.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said the measures would “provide much-needed support to many embattled airports, helping them through the challenging months ahead”.

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