COVID-19 Update 66
Monday 22 June 2020
Dear AOA Member,
Press speculation over the weekend continued to focus on the forthcoming potential relaxation of the 2 metre social distancing guidelines and also on the expected “opening the economy” intervention from the Prime Minister on the 4th July. With the hospitality industry hoping that this 4th July marks the restart for their businesses, equally we will be hoping that the Government announces the establishment of at least a few International Travel Corridors at the 29th June review point for the quarantine measures.
The AOA Board was pleased to welcome Aviation Minister Kelly Tolhurst to its meeting this morning which enabled us to emphasise (again) the urgency of moving away from the blanket quarantine to a more targeted approach. In addition members highlighted that as additional countries meet the Government’s criteria for air bridges, decisions should be taken immediately rather than waiting until the end of the next 3-week review period. On this latter point the Minister seemed very positive and we will be looking to confirm this with DfT. Other areas which we took the opportunity to raise included the need for the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) to continue for those sectors which will see their recovery lagging behind others (including aviation); our continued efforts to secure assistance with business rates for English and Welsh airports; and the importance of travel advice for passengers – both international and domestic – to change so that passenger confidence can be restored.
This afternoon, AOA joined the weekly operational call for airports with the Department for Transport. On that 2 metre guideline, officials stated that an announcement would be due soon, perhaps at the Government press conference tomorrow, and that implementation of any changes to the guideline would be further discussed at the next Expert Steering Group meeting later this week. On quarantine, officials at the Department were working on some of the remaining issues related to the implementation of the policy, particularly with regard to the proportion of passengers that have filled out the required forms by the time they present at the UK Border. Officials were working directly with air carriers which had a particularly low-rate of completion before the Border to see what communications could be used to increase this rate. Should AOA members come across any other significant implementation challenges with the quarantine policy, please let us know. Finally, the Department was positive about the chances of a number of International Travel Corridors being established next week, with the exact timings of an announcement still being worked on. Officials were also working on logistical challenges such as the clear separation of passengers from “air bridge” countries and those to the rest of the world, within airport terminals.
Finally, in a small bit of good news for the industry, following discussions at the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell, it is understood that a list, issued by EASA, of airports located in areas of high levels of COVID-19 infections, will be removed from the next iteration of the EASA Safety Directive.
Other items of note:
- EUROCONTROL have issued the latest iteration of the Network Manager’s 2020 Recovery Plan.
- The public health guidance for airports was updated today to reflect changes made by the Scottish Government. Unlike in the rest of the UK where they are only recommended, face coverings will be mandatory in Scottish airports from today.