Covid-19 updates

COVID-19 Update 69

Thursday 25 June 2020

Dear AOA Member,

Today there has been further speculation about airbridges and quarantine and when the Government will be making an announcement on its future policy. The BBC understands that initial details could be unveiled this weekend and according to the report Government will exempt travellers from quarantine from most Western European countries and to announce airbridges with nations including France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Turkey and Finland. However, in his statement to the Transport Committee in Parliament yesterday, the Secretary of State for Transport stated that the announcement would be made on Monday.

This morning, I attended the weekly Expert Steering Group meeting where industry stakeholders shared their short and long term asks for Government support. I highlighted the need for further financial assistance for UK airports, including Business Rates Relief, an extension to the Job Retention Scheme, funding to support progress on the airspace modernisation programme, funding for industry sustainability efforts and a 12 month APD waiver. The top priority of course remains the need to remove the quarantine measures and to ensure that Government continues to progress with the opening up of countries beyond those announced at the first review date on Monday.

AOA also attended a meeting with the Department for Transport’s External Affairs team who highlighted the priorities for Government messaging over the next few weeks. The Government machine is focused on bringing the economy back and will look to construct a narrative of a Government “seizing the summer”. Two strands of this narrative will be the green recovery and a substantial investment in infrastructure, which will be outlined further by the Prime Minister, supposedly on the 4 July, with the new much-reported mantra “Build, Build, Build”.

Elsewhere today, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change submitted its 2020 report to Parliament, assessing progress in reducing UK emissions over the past year and the way ahead. Aviation was not listed in the highest priority areas for immediate action, but the full statement reiterated that international flights should be formally included in UK climate targets in the next Carbon Budget and net-zero plans for aviation should be developed. Specifically they said a policy framework is needed to achieve net-zero aviation emissions by 2050, which would include demand-side measures, efficiency and low-carbon fuels, with residual emissions offset by verifiable removals. They also stated the UK’s airport capacity strategy should be reviewed in light of the net-zero target. Action is also needed, they noted, on non-CO₂ warming effects from aviation.

Other items of note:

  • To inform the recent change in policy, the Government embarked on a two-week-long review of the 2 metre social distancing guidance, a summary of the review findings can be found here.

Best wishes,

Karen Dee
Chief Executive