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The UK Government has voted to temporarily defer the payment of air navigation charges for airlines as the coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to affect operations worldwide.

The move is expected to bring financial relief to airlines struggling as a result of the pandemic.

With this development, payment for air navigation services flying through the UK and European airspace between February and May is postponed for up to 14 months.

Prior to the announcement, the UK’s top ten airlines would be required to pay a total of £47.2m for flights in European airspace in February.

This decision will now allow UK airlines to save tens of millions of pounds a month.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is a very difficult time for airlines, but they continue to provide a vital service bringing UK citizens home and transporting vital medical supplies.

“Deferring these charges will further help airlines, on top of the unprecedented package of economic measures recently announced by the UK Chancellor, to support businesses through this challenging period.”

According to EUROCONTROL, which manages charging for navigation services across Europe, European airlines could defer a total of €1.1bn in route charges.

The UK Government holds a 10% share to vote for EUROCONTROL proposals.

At the end of last month, the UK Government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office established a partnership with airlines to bring home stranded British tourists overseas after many countries imposed travel restrictions and closed borders to limit infections.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus stood at 1,279,336 globally while the death toll reached 69,844.