Nearly 44,000 airline staff have been furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Grant Shapps has confirmed.
The Transport Secretary was responding to a question from Labour MP Mike Kane, who asked for the Government to bring in an “aviation support package” for the sector.
Mr Shapps told MPs in the Commons on Monday that he “absolutely will bring forward enormous amounts of support to aviation businesses”.
He added: “I can tell the House that there are 43,500 furloughed staff right now from the airlines alone, another 2,600 from airports, and I am very acutely aware of the job losses and proposed job losses for which we’re very concerned.”
Mr Shapps said that work on an additional scheme of support for the aviation sector alongside the Treasury is “very much ongoing” and said there is “a huge amount of support” being made available through the Government’s existing schemes.
But he warned MPs that the aviation sector has “quite a long tail” before flights will be able to resume.
“It is true to say, of course, airlines and aviation in general is facing a particularly hard time – first in to this crisis and with quite a long tail, we think, to come out of it,” he said.
“I’m working very closely therefore with my friend in the Department for Work and Pensions to support workers who lose their jobs as well.”
Mr Shapps also insisted quarantine measures from early June will be a “blanket situation” for other countries initially but could be then eased for those with low Covid-19 infection rates.
Huw Merriman, Conservative chairman of the Transport Committee, asked in the Commons: “If he will consider air bridges so that those entering the UK from countries where the infection rate is below the rate of one would not be subject to quarantine?
“This will boost confidence in aviation travel and target safety where it’s most needed.”
Mr Shapps replied: “Final details of the quarantine scheme will be released soon, come in early next month.
“It is the case we should consider further improvements – for example, things like air bridges enabling people from other countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of coronavirus infection to come to the country.
“So, those are active discussions but will go beyond what will initially be a blanket situation.”
It came as Mr Shapps said “about 20,000” British nationals are still in need of repatriation and the Government is working
“We are still on a daily basis organising charter flights to bring the remaining overseas British nationals home,” he said. “I think the number is at about 20,000 still to repatriate.”