Covid-19 updates

COVID-19 Update 91

Monday 27 July 2020

Dear AOA Member,

As you will have seen from the news over the weekend any person travelling from all parts of Spain, including the Canary and Balearic Islands, to the UK, on or after the 26 July will need to self-isolate for 14 days, after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. At the same time, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its travel advice against all non-essential travel to mainland Spain, but has not explicitly advised against travel to the Spanish islands. This has obviously created a certain level of confusion amongst consumers. AOA has insisted to Government that, while we understand the public health concerns, this action will “further damage what is already a fragile restart of the aviation sector which continues to face the biggest challenge in its history”. In a call with the Aviation Minister over the weekend, AOA called for quarantine measures to be implemented on a regional basis, to allow quarantine-free travel to the Spanish islands where the infection rates are much lower and for urgent consideration of the role for testing as an alternative to quarantine.

This morning I joined a call with the Aviation Minister and stakeholders across the sector to discuss the expected employment crisis ahead. With the end of the job retention scheme due in October and the faltering recovery to airport and airlines revenues, the risk of losing an entire cohort of highly-skilled workers from the sector is increasing. Talent Retention Solutions (TRS), which has worked with the aerospace and construction sectors, presented and proposed a turn-key solution for the aviation sector: it would provide a portal for employers and employees to identify opportunities and realise the transferability of their skills to ensure that the sector as a whole does not lose valuable talent. The platform would be free of charge to all users in the immediacy of the current crisis. The Department was keen to pursue this initiative, not only from a short-term point of view, but also as part of a wider scheme to boost the attractiveness of the sector to future employees.

This afternoon, AOA joined the weekly operational call for airports with the Department for Transport. Officials briefed attendees on the events over the weekend and the rationale for reintroducing quarantine measures for Spain, based on the latest statistics from the Spanish Government and informed by Joint Biosecurity Centre advice. The Department accepted there was work to be done as to how these decisions are communicated to industry and agreed to examine whether countries identified as being on a “negative trend” could be shared with stakeholders, in order for the next announcement to be less of a surprise, requiring urgent action. The Department stated that there could be a case for regionalisation of the quarantine policy, particularly for islands or geographically distinct areas of a country, and officials would be working on this concept through this week. Also of note, the Home Office is said to be reviewing the Passenger Locator Forms and whether these can be simplified after feedback from industry and passengers.

Other items of note:

  • Webinar hosted by CANSO on 30 July at 10.30: Safely navigating the Industry Restart Series – Pilot and ATCO Interface during Restart. It will address potential challenges related to the interface between ATCOs and pilot in light of the new and changing operating environment resulting from COVID-19.
  • The CBI in collaboration with the University of Birmingham has published a report on the decarbonisation of heat. The report outlined the challenges of decarbonising heat in the UK and what those challenge means for businesses, consumers, and communities.
  • The Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority have published new contingency planning guidance for drone incursions. This was sent out through the Aviation Security email portal.

Best wishes,

Karen Dee
Chief Executive