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A Loganair Twin Otter. (Photo: Mark Harkin (G-SGTS Twin Otter Loganair) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Aviation Industry Lobby U.K. Government For ‘Pathway to Re-opening’

Aviation industry executives and advocacy groups in the U.K. are vigorously lobbying the U.K. government ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ speech on 22 February. Mr. Johnson’s scheduled announcement on Monday is expected to include details on how the U.K. will plan to emerge from a series of lockdowns imposed in light of the CoVid-19 pandemic. The aviation industry has been one of the most impacted sectors with travel demand all but disappearing as a result of a mix of country bans, arrival quarantine requirements and regulations which currently make vacation travel illegal.

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have issued a position paper titled “A Strategic Pathway to Re-opening International Aviation”. The paper is ‘intended to stimulate thought leadership with the Government’ and includes a range of measures for the government to consider to facilitate a safe reopening of the industry. These measures include the use of digital health wallet apps, vaccination certificates, pre-departure and arrival testing regimes.

Dale Keller chief executive of BAR UK said, “As we check-in for the long-haul journey out of this pandemic it is essential that we put to best use the learnings of science, experience and hindsight that was lacking as Governments worldwide applied inconsistent and poorly aligned measures on international travel. The best minds in the industry and Government must come together to develop and implement a well-thought-out and workable plan that is needed to restore the UK’s international connectivity. The airline industry has tremendous expertise available to the Government on effective scenario planning and our thought leadership on a pathway to safely reopening international travel poses the practical questions and ideas that need to be worked through.”

Further lobbying has been undertaken by trade body Airlines UK which organized a webinar with chief executives of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic. The chief executive officer of Airbus Guillaume Faury summarised the necessity of government involvement for the future of the industry by stating: “The pace of recovery will not only depend on the evolution of the pandemic and rate and effectiveness of vaccines but also the reaction of governments.”

Jonathan Hinkles the chief executive of Loganair gave a clear message to the government by saying: “Restrictions today are so draconian that many UK airports are considering outright closure, which will destroy even the limited connectivity maintained without fail throughout the pandemic for movement of freight and key workers.” Concerns have been mounting in recent weeks about the possibility of summer travel with conflicting messages from the U.K. government. Bloomberg reported Mr. Hinkles saying that ‘without a reopening in time for summer, carriers would have faced the equivalent of four consecutive winters since the pandemic began.’

The U.K. airline community is seeking a number of measures including 100 percent furlough support at least until the end of the IATA summer season in October and a 12-month APD (Air Passenger Duty) waiver and removal of double taxation anomaly for domestic aviation. Of particular concern is the possibility of further redundancies which could total in the hundreds of thousands from the aviation industry and the wider economy it supports. “The loss of more jobs – which we’ve worked so hard to avoid – would be a hammer blow to the industry,” said Mr. Hinkles.

Tim Alderslade CEO of Airlines UK stated, “The Prime Minister needs to indicate on the 22nd the intent for international travel to reopen again this summer and provide much-needed reassurance that travel will be possible, helping to restore consumer confidence.“

John Flett
John Flett
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