COVID-19 Update 35
Wednesday 6 May 2020
Dear AOA Member,
This morning I gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee, alongside Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye and Cardiff CEO Deb Bowen Rees on the impact of COVID-19 on aviation. It was a good session, where interestingly the focus was predominantly on the economic importance of airports for their local communities and on how Government can support airports through the crisis and strengthen their role afterwards. You can watch it back here, and after the hearing we released a statement summarising our key asks as set out to the Select Committee.
I also joined the first of the Steering Group meetings for the DfT’s Restart, Recovery and Engagement Unit. It was a large call (45 attendees!), and DfT Director for Aviation Rannia Leontaridi did well to manage all the participants who were keen to contribute. As industry, we have given a deadline to Government for setting out health measures for aviation, as it feels transport in general is an afterthought in the wider “back-to-work” guidance that Government is planning to issue. They’ve asked us to reflect on the impact of some of the measures, which we will pick up with the wider AOA membership where necessary.
We also joined a call with the CBI, where Katie Lam (Head of Business Relations, Downing Street) was present to discuss the Government’s work on recovery. It was good to hear that they understand the importance of gradually stepping down initiatives like the Job Retention Scheme, which the AOA has called for.
Meanwhile, in a flashback to more business-as-usual matters, the list of amendments for the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill was posted here on Monday. Pre-crisis, this was a bill the AOA was very active on, seeking amendments and clarifications concerning the scope and criteria around the Government’s drafted airspace enforcement power. Opposition Peers have continued to press amendments on matters of funding for enforced airspace changes and on the Secretary of State’s broader statutory responsibilities with regard to airspace. The AOA will continue to press for amendments on the delegation of the power to the CAA and the criteria through which the power could be used, especially as the bill enters the Commons.
Tomorrow, the Aviation Minister has her weekly airport calls, where we will pick up some of the points raised today in the Steering Group meetings.