A manifesto for a sustainable future in aviation

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has released its general election manifesto, setting out how industry can work with a new Government to build on the existing success in the aviation sector and ensure that future airport growth is sustainable. A new Government has the ability to enable aviation to deliver the benefits of connectivity to more of the UK population, both so people can take their well-earned holidays and so businesses have the vital overseas connectivity they require. It also details how, through a new Aviation Strategy, the sector can underpin a new Government’s growth agenda, including through investment in sustainable aviation opportunities such as sustainable aviation fuels to create green growth opportunities.

The manifesto sets out five priorities:

1. Deliver a national aviation policy that supports sustainable airport growth

The Government must set out in an Aviation Strategy a fair framework for sustainable growth at all airports, helping to deliver the connectivity required to support a flourishing economy in every UK nation and region, whilst also supporting efforts to deliver on the UK’s net-zero emissions target. The AOA believes that through an international approach, with the right Government support, together with substantial industry investment, net-zero emissions and a sustainable future are within reach for UK aviation.

2. Prioritise a new legal framework for the UK’s aviation connectivity after Brexit

Excellent connectivity will be a precondition of making a success of Brexit. While aircraft will continue to fly in any scenario thanks to contingency measures taken by the UK and the EU and thanks to the bilateral air services agreements the Government has secured with third countries currently covered by EU air services agreements, there are still uncertainties and concerns for the industry. A new Government must provide certainty on aviation: negotiating a new UK-EU air services agreement, securing continued membership in the European Aviation Safety Agency and continuing close cooperation on security and air traffic control.

3. Support industry in modernising UK’s airspace

The work of the previous Government in supporting an airspace modernisation programme for the UK must continue at pace. UK airspace is our invisible infrastructure in the sky, vital to the success of aviation and the wider economy. It has a finite capacity and has changed little since its creation in the 1950s and 1960s. Unless modernised, it will not handle expected levels of traffic without increased delays and cancellations. Modernisation also provides an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of aviation, both in terms of noise for local communities and carbon emissions from inefficient routing and stacking.

4. Ensure that the UK’s border regime is secure but welcoming

It is right that the UK has a secure but welcome border that makes legitimate travel easy and hassle-free. It is in the national interest to better harness technology and have a well-resourced Border Force that can cope with increased passenger flows and demonstrates to visitors that the UK is welcoming and open for business.

5. Review and reform Air Passenger Duty to boost the UK’s international competitiveness

We will need a competitive aviation sector to ensure British business can take advantage of the opportunities presented by the country’s exit from the European Union. Our uncompetitive levels of Air Passenger Duty (APD) make the economics of establishing new routes economically difficult for airlines. A new Government should bring APD in line with our nearest competitors by reducing it by 50%, ensuring that the UK is ‘Brexit ready’.

Chief Executive of the AOA, Karen Dee said:

“Aviation is one of UK’s success stories, employing more than a million people across the country and enabling businesses to reach new and existing customers with ease. With the right support and policy framework, we can do better still, delivering more value and choice for UK consumers and businesses across the whole of the UK, as well as supporting a future Government’s sustainability agenda.

“Such a strategy offers great scope to create jobs and growth; for example through investing in sustainable aviation technologies, such as sustainable aviation fuels, where the UK could be a genuine world leader.

“The AOA election manifesto sets out an ambitious agenda for the next Government and we look forward to working with Ministers and officials to deliver on this, enabling aviation to play its full part in helping to secure the UK’s future prosperity and its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”