European airlines serving Scotland seek total £9bn bailout

The nine carriers have applied for an unprecedented level of state loans, Greenpeace research showed today.

Air France-KLM has sought more than £5 billion in state help. Picture: KLM.

They feature among a total £11.2 billion claim by European airlines because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figure is revealed in a new “airline bailout tracker” launched by Greenpeace, and fellow campaigners Transport & Environment, and Carbon Market Watch.

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They called for support to be linked to emissions cuts after aviation pollution levels reached a record high before most flights were grounded last month.

Virgin Atlantic has sought a £500 million UK Government loan.

The only exception was in Austria, where transport minister Leonore Gewessler said public support for Austrian Airlines, part of Lufthansa, should be linked to climate targets.

However, industry body Airlines UK said no other sector had conditions tied to economic support in the crisis.

Airlines with Scottish flights seeking help:

Easyjet £600 million – loan granted

SAS £407m – agreed

TUI £1.58bn – agreed

Norwegian £23m

Finnair £527m

Lufthansa amount to be agreed

British Airways £41m

Air France/KLM £5.27bn

Virgin Atlantic £503m

Aviation analyst John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, said: “Airlines are far from knowing what they will fly as the summer unfolds.”

“There are so many factors at play, ranging from passenger sentiment to the impact of any requirements on airlines to reduce capacity due to social distancing. “

“Scotland will undoubtedly remain a highly important market for the key airline operators, but it is certainly realistic to assume that capacity will fall and some routes will be lost in this extreme time of crisis for the industry.”

Greenpeace EU Covid-19 spokesperson Faiza Oulahsen said: “Public bailouts must come with strict conditions to protect jobs and slash the aviation sector’s soaring contribution to climate breakdown.

Reskill

“Short-haul flights have to become a thing of the past and this money should help airline workers to reskill.

“Any public funding should lay the foundation for a just and green transition for people and planet, with widespread investment in transport alternatives like trains.

“Governments must address both the economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and the crisis we face in climate change.”

Transport & Environment aviation manager Andrew Murphy said: “Airlines are seeking public money so they can get back to the business-as-usual of soaring emissions enabled by light-touch pollution laws and tax exemptions.

‘Green transition’

“It’s time to ensure aviation makes a green transition by linking aid to taxes and greener fuels which will reverse the sector’s rapid emissions growth.”

Carbon Market Watch policy officer Gilles Dufrasne said: “It's time governments stopped throwing money at one of the biggest polluters without expecting anything in return.

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“Airlines benefit from massive tax breaks and free pollution permits under the EU's carbon market.

“This has allowed them to generate large profits, and now they are asking taxpayers to shoulder the losses.

“The pollution from flying is likely to rebound fast once the pandemic is over, and the aviation industry must start paying for the climate damage it causes.”

The groups said aviation had been one of the fastest-growing contributors to greenhouse gas emissions over the last two decades, with a 26 per cent increase in emissions over the past five years alone.

But a spokesperson for Airlines UK said: “UK aviation published a road map earlier this year on how it intends to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with UK Government legislation for the whole economy and the Paris Agreement.

“We are the only national aviation industry in the world to make that commitment.

“No other sector - transport or otherwise - has been asked to attach conditions to any economic support package to deal with the devastating impacts of Covid-19, and if we want our economy to grow once we enter the recovery period we will need our aviation sector more than ever.”

Aviation analyst John Strickland. of JLS Consulting, said: “Airlines are far from knowing what they will fly as the summer unfolds.

“There are so many factors at play, ranging from passenger sentiment to the impact of any requirements on airlines to reduce capacity due to social distancing.

“Scotland will undoubtedly remain a highly important market for the key airline operators but it is certainly realistic to assume that capacity will fall and some routes will be lost in this extreme time of crisis for the industry.”

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