COVID-19 Update 98
Wednesday 5 August 2020
Dear AOA Member,
With a local lockdown imposed on Aberdeen, it is clear that COVID-19 outbreaks are here to stay and that despite the best efforts of industry and Government it will be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the virus in the UK. With a longer-term perspective and further reports of job cuts in the sector and struggling airlines in the news today, the need and case for Government support has never been stronger.
AOA continued to press this message today in a series of meetings with the Department for Transport. AOA attended three of the Expert Steering Group’s sub-groups including: Communications, Testing, and Airports & Aviation Services.
At the testing meeting discussion focussed on how any potential testing regime could be used to avoid or reduce quarantine measures for travellers from countries falling in the “high-risk” categories. The key challenge will be to determine what is the level of risk which is appropriate. As part of the subgroup work, AOA and the participating airports were asked to conduct some consumer sentiment surveys, to better understand the reaction of passengers to the prospect of testing. This has prompted some media interest and AOA has issued a reactive statement to enquiries, stating that we are working closely with Government and exploring a number of alternatives to blanket quarantine.
The Airports & Aviation Services sub-group focused attention on the relative benefits of the various support measures which industry has been calling for including in particular, business rates relief and continued employment support once the Job Retention Scheme ends in October. Naturally these measures must go hand-in-hand with our efforts to continue to open up the market for aviation safely.
Other items of note
- Also in the news today was the release of the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on the Home Office’s preparedness for COVID-19. Broadly the committee was critical of the Government’s reluctance to bring in stricter measures at the UK Border in March and April 2020. My evidence to the committee was cited in the report, arguing for the need for a more proportionate risk-based approach to quarantine. The Committee, along with the Transport Committee, agreed with the AOA’s scepticism on whether the Government introduced quarantine measures at the right time.