11 Jan Heathrow demands business rates relief as passenger numbers plunge through Covid-19 restrictions
eathrow’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.
After months of calls from the aviation industry for pre-departure testing, the government has said all international arrivals must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure.
While this could show a path out of the current crisis, Holland-Kaye said the current tightening of border controls was “not sustainable”.
He said: “The aviation industry is the cornerstone of the UK economy but is fighting for survival. We need a road map out of this lockdown, and a full waiver of business rates.
“This is an opportunity for the government to show leadership in creating a Common International Standard for pre-departure testing that will allow travel and trade to restart safely so that we can start to deliver the Prime Minister’s vision of a Global Britain.”
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.