Covid-19 updates

COVID-19 Update 53

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Dear AOA Member,

Another day occupied with public discussion on the quarantine measures with a lot of welcome Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s plans. An urgent question, tabled by Huw Merriman MP, led to a debate on aviation and the economic impact of COVID-19 in the House, with former PM Theresa May pressing the Government on the need for internationally agreed health standards, instead of unilateral quarantine measures. The Home Secretary was in the House of Commons to set out the detail of the measures including the factors that will be taken into account during the reviews of the policy that will take place every three weeks. These factors include the rate of infection and transmission internationally, the measures taken by international partners, the levels of imported cases in countries with relaxed border measures and the effectiveness of antibody and other testing regimes. In response to the Home Secretary’s announcement to the House, the AOA released the following statement and we will continue to press for a more targeted approach.

On a separate, but related matter, this morning the AOA wrote to the Foreign Secretary to press home our concerns regarding the current COVID-19 exceptional travel advisory notice, which advises against all but essential international travel for British citizens. It is imperative that a joined-up Government approach takes hold and departments work together to ensure that their different policies are not at odds with each other. The industry does not want to be in a situation where the Home Office’s quarantine measures are lifted, even in-part, but the Foreign Office advice against travel remains in place.

This afternoon, the AOA team participated in a BEIS roundtable on the furlough scheme where HMT went through the changes announced by the Chancellor to the scheme. Many sectors along with the AOA raised the issue of the Government extending the scheme for sectors like ours beyond October. However, HMT pointed out that this was a temporary scheme opened due to the immediate reaction to COVID-19 and 8 months they feel is a significant period of time. They understand the challenges that some sectors will face but there are no easy answers that can be given.

HMT further highlighted that any employees being placed on the furlough scheme for the first time must be placed on the scheme by 10 June so the current three-week furlough period is completed by 30 June, and the scheme will be closed to new entrants on 30 June. From 1 July the scheme will only be made available to employers that have previously used the scheme to furlough their employees. From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim from the scheme for the hours not worked. Employers will need to agree any flexible furlough arrangements with employees, and when claiming will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. Further guidance on flexible furlough and how employers should calculate claims will be published on the 12 June. Please also see the HMT guidelines here.

AOA also took part in the inaugural Aviation Restart Communications Group led by the DfT. The aim is to ensure that communications messaging will be robust and consistent across Government and industry as the sector looks to restart. This will be a weekly meeting, so we will aim to keep you updated as discussions progress.

Finally, a few other items of note:

  • The CAA announced a payment plan scheme for the payment of annual charges yesterday, which should help airports and other aviation stakeholder spread the payments for 2020/2021 CAA Charges between now and the end of February 2021. More information is available here, under “CAA Finances”.
  • The AOA Sustainability Group met today to discuss the priorities of Sustainable Aviation and potential areas where airports could work on shared sustainability challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. If there are any airport members who would like to get involved in the work of the group, please get in touch.

Best wishes,

Karen Dee
Chief Executive