Government measures needed for UK aviation to remain a strong and vibrant industry

Following her appearance at the Transport Select Committee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee said:

“The recent British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announcements underline the massive impact COVID-19 is having on the aviation sector. The UK needs a strong, vibrant airline and airport sector that is able to compete domestically and internationally to deliver the routes and accessible air fares that passengers and businesses rely on.

“As I outlined to the Transport Select Committee today, for UK aviation to recover we need the Government to take a number of steps:

  • Airports need clear public health measures, based on medical advice, that ensure passenger safety and wellbeing while facilitating travel.
    • These should be applied consistently across UK aviation and transport more widely.
    • The standards should be proportionate, time-limited and as international as possible in their application.
    • It should be accompanied by Government communications to prepare passengers for what to expect when travelling.
    • Crucially, the sector must have the ability to deny passengers boarding if they do not comply with the agreed health standards.
  • In light of the expected long road to recovery, continued financial support will be necessary to ensure that UK airports can facilitate the restart of the aviation industry.
    • The Government should invest in the future success of the UK’s aviation industry or risk UK aviation falling behind international competitors:
      • Relief from business rates and continued deferral of other taxes.
      • Establishment of route development funds or specific funding measures aimed at restarting regional and domestic air connectivity.
      • Reform of aviation taxes, including a temporary suspension of APD.
    • The Job Retention Scheme should be tapered or phased out, in order to retain staff needed for when the recovery picks up.
    • On passenger welfare grounds, airside retail and food & drink outlets should be exempt from the general restrictions applied to high-street venues as soon as traffic returns.

“We look forward to the Committee’s continuing scrutiny of Government and working with Minister to put these measures in place.”