There is concern that Cardiff Airport could suffer a financial hit after operator FlyBe announce it is running out of cash following a slump in bookings caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The airline currently operates a number of flights out of Cardiff Airport but has told the Welsh Government, which owns the airport, that it may not survive.
The Welsh Labour Government announced two days ago that it is considering a further loan of £6.8 million to the airport. Last year, the Welsh Government loaned the airport £21.2m, which was an extension to the £38.2m the airport could already borrow from the Government.
The shadow minister for the economy, Plaid Cymru’s Helen Mary Jones said that the news was concerning.
“The news about Flybe is deeply concerning given the potential knock-on effects for Cardiff airport,” she said.
“I urge the Minister Ken Skates to urgently contact the company and the UK Government to ensure the interest of Cardiff Airport are not lost in the discussions.”
Flybe said that it will need a decision from the UK government about a £100m taxpayers’ loan “in the coming days” or it will not survive until the end of the month.
Flybe was already struggling before the outbreak. Two months ago, the UK government announced a £100m loan agreement, thought to be in the shape of a delay in paying Air Passenger Duty (APD) for three years, that would keep the airline going.
It was confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) today that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has killed about 3.4 percent of confirmed cases, globally.
However, the global spread of the new type of virus can still be controlled, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, urging countries to step up containment efforts and measures to protect front-line doctors and nurses.
“Globally, about 3.4 percent of COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected,” he told reporters in Geneva, outlining the main differences between the two respiratory illnesses.
“To summarise, COVID-19 spreads less efficiently than flu. Transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, and it causes more severe illness than flu. There are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be contained, which is why we must do everything we can to contain it.”
‘Duty of care’
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price today urged the Welsh Government to “urgently” declare Coronavirus a notifiable disease.
The Scottish Government, the Northern Ireland government and the Republic of Ireland the Guernsey Government have all formally declared Coronavirus as “notifiable” – which places a legal responsibility on medical professionals to tell health officials of suspected cases immediately – but Wales has not done so.
Wales has its own legislation – the Health Protection (Notification) (Wales) Regulations 2010 – which lists notifiable diseases in its Schedule 1.
Declaring a disease as “notifiable” is also the formal statutory process for monitoring infectious diseases which means certain types of insurance won’t cover losses from it.
The financial consequences of this means that business with certain insurance for disease outbreak will be covered by losses. Business in Wales currently have no such cover.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said it “beggars belief” that the Welsh Government hadn’t already declared Coronavirus a “notifiable disease”.
Mr Price said that in addition to no financial assurances being given to those on zero hours contracts, businesses in Wales were now faced with uncertainty because their insurance wouldn’t cover any losses as a result of the virus because it wasn’t registered as a notifiable disease.
The Plaid Cymru Leader said Welsh Government have a “duty of care and responsibility” and urged them to declare the virus as a “notifiable disease” urgently to “protect people and their livelihoods” and warned the Welsh Government not to be “complacent”.
“As we stand on the brink of a global pandemic it beggars’ belief that the Welsh Government haven’t yet declared that the Coronavirus is a ‘notifiable disease’,” he said.
“The Welsh Government seems to be operating two steps behind the other.
nations at the moment.
“I asked the First Minister yesterday what financial assurances he could give to people on zero hour contracts, agency staff and the self-employed in the event of the disease spreading. Now we find out that businesses in Wales are also at risk becaIt was confirmed by use their insurance won’t cover losses from COVID-19 because it isn’t registered as a notifiable disease.
“The Welsh Government has a duty of care and responsibility to its citizens. We urge them to declare the Coronavirus as a notifiable disease urgently – to both protect people and their livelihoods in the event of a serious outbreak. We can’t be complacent.”