COVID-19 Update 58
Wednesday 10 June 2020
Dear AOA Member,
As we prepare for the publication of the health measures for the UK aviation system, the AOA has continued to work with the Department for Transport on how they will be presented and making sure that airports are aware of what’s in the guidance. We’ve also continued to lobby Government and parliamentarians on the quarantine measures. One important aspect of this is for the AOA to gather as much indicative data as possible regarding potential job losses at UK airports, Patricia has sent around a separate email with this request, and I’d greatly appreciate it if all airports could ensure they’ve responded to this.
The AOA’s Chair, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, met with Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, this morning to discuss ongoing industry engagement with Government and what the next steps are for the Government’s policy during this crisis. While the Minister was clear that Treasury would not consider business rates relief for our sector at this time, we continued to press the need for measures which help to conserve cash until the sector can restart properly and urged Government to consider any temporary measures they could take to support that.
AOA also took part in a meeting of the Border Implementation Group, which reviewed airline and airport experience of the quarantine measures so far. The main issues flagged up to government were low levels of passenger form completion ahead of arrival, shortage of Border Force computer tablets and the tendency for comprehensive rather than just spot checking. Some airports reported that checking has caused delays of up to three and half hours for passengers, though this seems to be reducing as the week goes on. Border Force and government generally are to continue to work to make the process smoother, but some problems are expected to remain until the level of passenger form completion prior to arrival improves. Work is going on to improve the website and language friendliness of forms to achieve this.
In perhaps a sign that the focus is shifting to the future, the AOA attended a number of meetings on some more regular topics this morning and this afternoon, including on Brexit, sustainability, and aviation security. All discussions were of course held under the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis, with the future on most policy topics still very uncertain until the industry manages to emerge from our current predicament.
Other items of note:
- The AOA Health and Safety Group met today and discussed risk assessments with third parties, thermal screenings, and enhanced cleaning protocols. If any airport member would like to join future discussions, please get in touch.
- Parents returning to work after extended leave eligible for furlough: The Government has now amended a requirement in the JRS to allow parents currently on statutory maternity and paternity leave to be eligible for the furlough scheme if they return to work after the 10 June closure date.
- Consumer Sentiment: The latest BVA-BDRC Consumer Sentiment Tracker has been released. The headlines are that 65% of Brits feel uncomfortable about overseas visitors to their area, and perhaps due to the quarantine measures, only 10% of people intend to travel overseas in the next three months.