Robert Courts – 2021 Statement on Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme

The statement made by Robert Courts, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, on 25 May 2021.

I am tabling this statement for the benefit of hon. Members to bring to their attention spend under the Industrial Development Act 1982 (“the Act”).

On 24 November the Government announced the introduction of the airport and ground operations support scheme (the scheme) with the intention of supporting airports and ground handlers who have experienced the impact of covid-19 on their business while maintaining high levels of fixed costs during the 2020-21 financial year. The aim was to open the scheme in January and ensure grant payments were made to eligible businesses by the end of the financial year. Grant payments would be made using powers in sections 7 and 8 of the Act.

Section 8(8) of the Act states that financial assistance for any one project shall not exceed £30 million, except so far as such excess has been authorised by a resolution of the House of Commons. The need to act and ensure that support was provided promptly meant that the Government were previously unable to seek such authorisation from the House of Commons.

Section 8(9) of the Act provides that the Secretary of State shall lay a statement concerning the financial assistance before each House of Parliament if they are satisfied that the payment or undertaking to pay financial assistance in excess of £30 million was urgently needed and it would have been impracticable to obtain the approval of the House of Commons by way of a resolution.

The need to provide urgent support to airports and ground handlers who play a vital role in the infrastructure of the country made it impracticable to seek authorisation by way of a resolution, for payments under the scheme in excess of £30 million and I am therefore tabling this statement. The details of the spend on the scheme, which opened for applications at the end of January, are set out below:

Total of Scheme Grants

£ 86,925,171.00

Commercial Airports

£ 65,075,462.00

Ground Handling Operators

£ 21,849,709.00

The Government remain committed to supporting the sector and has recently announced that the scheme will be renewed for the first six months of the financial year 2021-22. Consent for the use of powers in sections 7 and 8 of the Act for the renewed scheme will be sought separately.