COVID-19 Update 39
Wednesday 13 May 2020
Dear AOA Member,
Our main focus today was a call with the Transport Secretary and working through the health measures that the DfT has long-listed as possible options for a restarted aviation environment.
On the call with the Secretary of State we got a little bit more detail on the quarantine, but mostly it confirmed what we already know. Most importantly, the measure is primarily aimed at avoiding a second spike of infection as lockdown measures are eased. This easing depends on reduction of the UK “R number” (the rate of infection in the community). The Secretary of State confirmed that the measure would be regularly reviewed (though no specific time frame was mentioned), with a positive decision to reimpose. DfT is currently drawing up a list of exemptions, to reflect the wide range of people who may need to travel without this restriction and there is a view that quarantine could transition into a more risk-based approach, e.g. countries that also have a low R being exempted. Further details are expected as part of Government guidance.
The Secretary of State reasserted the Department’s commitment to a four-week deadline for the work on the health measures which should apply on restart. The team here has received extensive feedback from airports through our various groups on the initial long list of potential measures – for which we thank you. We have collated that and today fed back our views to DfT. It seems that airports and airlines are largely aligned, and we will be discussing a common position tomorrow ahead of the Steering Group for the DfT’s Restart & Recovery work.
We also raised with the Secretary of State the need for further financial support for the sector, particularly given the announcement of potential quarantine measures. He emphasised that Government is prepared to look at bespoke arrangements and that some airports are applying for that. But on business rates, he directed us to local authorities as it was their decision, in his view – while local authorities refer us to Government due to state aid constraints.
Lastly, we made the point that Government ministers are using very negative language about aviation and travelling in the media, such as saying that all “lavish summer holidays” are cancelled this year. We contrasted that with the European Commission’s approach, which today published its guidelines and while they rely on Member States agreeing to implementing these, they did say they were working to save some of the summer holiday season. This is in recognition of the important role tourism plays in the EU economy (it’s 10% of the EU’s GDP, and more in a range of Member States). The Secretary of State committed to consider how the DfT and others could have a more constructive forward view in their statements of the timelines for future travel resuming.
Finally, a couple of short updates:
- The Government has set up five ministerial task forces to focus on the restart of certain sectors and industries. One of these will focus on international aviation, reflecting the DfT’s work on Restart & Recovery.
- Government has announced it will support businesses who rely on Trade Credit Insurance with a Trade Credit Insurance guarantee