The Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget was today called ‘ a massive slap in the face’ for the aviation sector by The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA).

The Association said that it is ‘absolutely dismayed’ that aviation was ignored in the Budget announcement and that the Government has failed to recognise the dire situation the travel industry is facing. BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said:

“The Chancellor said not one single word about aviation in his budget. While there was sector-specific money for non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, gyms, personal care, arts, culture and the housing sector, there was not one word of backing for our vital sector.

“This is a massive slap in the face for the industry that has supported repatriations, brought in vital supplies and faced never ending changes to restrictions and rules and a total shutdown as a result of Government policy.”

Heathrow airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“The Chancellor talks about protecting jobs and livelihoods, fixing the public finances and laying the foundations for the future economy, and yet he continues to ignore the UK’s aviation sector. He clearly doesn’t understand that all three depend on a strong aviation sector delivering the trade, tourism and investment that power vast parts of the British economy. Failing to even mention aviation, let alone provide full business rates relief for airports in today’s Budget, is a missed opportunity to ensure the sector can play a key role in the country’s economic recovery. The absence of any meaningful support from the Government in the face of tough restrictions which have ground travel to a halt will weaken the sector and limit UK growth at the time it is needed most.”

Brian Strutton said that the feeling was that “Mr Sunak has totally abandoned aviation and failed to acknowledge just how difficult times are for the sector right now. This budget could push many airlines further in to a death spiral and cost even more jobs.

Strutton said that,

“We must now look to the vital Global Taskforce report on April the 12th to give our aviation industry certainty and security and help us to plan a way though this crisis.”

Speaking before before the budget to the UK Transport Select Committee, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said that the government had offered a ‘lamentable’ lack of support for aviation.

On the Global Taskforce, O’Leary said: “We support any Government initiatives that would get travel back working again. But as you all know, in the House of Commons if you want to slow something down, you set up a task force or a high level study group or, God help us, a commission of investigation. Then you kick it into the long grass.”

“The Department of Transport exists to make decisions on Transport, not to set up task forces. We don’t need a task force, we need action.”