Airlines have lost heaps amount of money due to the impacts on travel coronavirus has brought. It is truly a catastrophic impact on all the businesses that make up the flying industry. Should the government bail them out? Climate campaigners think otherwise.
More than 250 trades unions and environment groups have signed an open letter opposing plans for bailing out the aviation industry.
The letter demands than any form of bailouts leads to better labour conditions and a huge cut in emissions. This follows a previous article that asked if we should go back to normal after the pandemic.
They say the aviation industry should make changes anyway, let a lone with a push from the pandemic lockdown.
Thanks to a long-standing treaty, international aviation has been able to make its own rules more often than not.
Climate campaigners are protesting against this and say this must change now that firms are asking for new favours from governments. Theoretically, they are asking governments to put a foot down on the aviation industry towards a greener means of travel.
The unofficial name for the group is “Stay Grounded”. Magdalena Heuwieser, Stay Grounded’ spokesperson, said, “For decades the aviation industry has avoided contributing meaningfully to global climate goals and resisted the merest suggestion of taxes on fuel or tickets.”
Risk of bankruptcy
“Now, airlines, airports and manufacturers are demanding huge and unconditional taxpayer-backed bailouts. We cannot let the aviation industry get away with privatising profits in the good times, and expect the public to pay for its losses in the bad times.”
The aviation association IATA has conducted what it calls an “aggressive” global campaign with the aim of persuading governments to introduce and implement measures of softening the effect of the virus emergency.
It is asking for the immediate reduction of all charges and taxes; deferral of any planned increases in charges and taxes between 6 and 12 months; and the creation of funds to aid airlines in restarting or maintaining routes.
It also highlights that without such measures, many airlines will go into bankruptcy. Thus, leading to the loss of routes and damage to the economy and of course, a lot of job losses.
Several nations have agreed to some of the industry’s demands. However, in the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has told airlines to look at their own shareholders to keep them from going bankrupt.
Meanwhile, UK airports are asking minsters for a suspension grant of Air Passenger Duty and other measures when all this is over. (Lets hope that is real soon.)
Stay Grounded has a different recipe for a successful result at the end of this pandemic.
They want to focus on protecting workers instead of shareholders; making aviation firms contribute to reduction in carbon emissions by cutting the demand in air travel and boosting low-carbon alternative like transport by rail. Also, they look to impose a kerosene tax and progressive levies on frequent flying.
Pablo Muñoz from the Spanish organisation Ecologistas en Acción, said: “While we are rightly focused on saving lives during the immediate health threat of, our governments have a choice: they can hand taxpayers’ money to corporations unconditionally, or they can seize the opportunity to start building an economy which doesn’t harm people or the planet”.
This is a much deeper debate about the nature of recovery post-coronavirus. There is a gulf between people who want to go greener after this and those who warn that the money will be lost due to conquering the virus and future money should be spent on building and returning back to normal before we can think to go green.
Credit: Roger Harrabin – BBC environment analyst