COVID-19 Update 76
Monday 6 July 2020
Dear AOA Member,
After a weekend of coverage over government communication challenges on the quarantine measures, the exempted countries list being applied across all four nations of the union, and negotiation with partner countries on reciprocal arrangements, it’s safe to say that a message of consumer confidence in air travel didn’t quite land in the way we had hoped. My team and I will be working closely with our industry partners over the next week, including the airlines, to seek further clarity on many of the outstanding questions regarding the change in policy. For example on the new 28-day review period for changes to the list of exempted countries or how to treat flights hubbing through non-exempted countries. AOA will keep members informed of relevant developments on these issues.
AOA joined the weekly operational call for airports with the Department for Transport this afternoon. Officials repeated the caveat that Government will not hesitate to ratchet measures back up to quarantine for specific countries, if the epidemiological situation in that region changes. AOA raised the need for Government to address the confusion caused by having two lists: the Foreign Office safety advice list of countries and the Department for Transport’s Travel Corridors list, it is important to ensure passengers and travel agents understand the conditions of travel.
On ongoing matters, the AOA and UKTRF wrote this afternoon to the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to ask for the return of duty and tax free shopping once the Brexit transition period is finished at the end of 2020. AOA responded to a government consultation on this matter earlier in the year and a decision on the policy going forward is expected to be made by ministers this month. The return of duty-free would be a much-needed boost to airport retail, leveling the playing field with European competitors and helping the industry to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Finally, one of the key asks of the AOA during the COVID-19 crisis has been for some alleviation from CAA charges. While we fully understand the principle of a regulator being funded by the industry it regulates, it was felt that these exceptional circumstances might warrant direct Government funding for the Civil Aviation Authority. Following a series of exchanges with the Aviation Minister, AOA and AirlinesUK received the attached response to our most recent request. This is obviously a disappointing development and AOA will continue to press this issue with MPs and the media.