7 SEPTEMBER 2020
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The Whitehall rumour mill was active over the weekend following a Monday embargoed statement from the House of Commons Transport Select Committee which highlighted the Government’s plans to publish a strategy for the recovery of the aviation sector during the autumn.
There has been no Treasury statement at this time but the imminent expected announcement is rumoured to include the suspension of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for the winter airline programme.
Headed by Huw Merriman MP the Committee largely reiterated the views put forward by all aspects of the air transport industry.
“The publication of an aviation recovery plan is welcome but it cannot come quick enough for a sector devastated by the impact of coronavirus. Our report expressed a desire to see more pace and detail on Government action to address the crisis. We await the Government’s aviation recovery plan and will look carefully at how Government intends to deal with some of the specific points in our report.
“The Government’s quarantine regime, coupled by a refusal to endorse airport testing to reduce the quarantine period, adds further barriers to travel. Whilst the Government’s approach can be argued for on health grounds, it also further justifies the Committee’s original call for the Government to provide a sector deal to support our ailing aviation industry and its workforce.”
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Basil Basil, Inverness
The UK Regional and Business Airports (RABA) Group (that represents 39 of the UK’s smaller airports serving less than 3 million passengers per year (pre-Covid)) strongly supports the Committee's advocacy of a comprehensive recovery strategy for the aviation sector and welcomes Government commitment to publish plans this Autumn.
Karen Dee, London
Treating islands separately to a mainland, for the purposes of quarantine, is a welcome step in the right direction for Government policy. But the quarantine requirement is devastating the UK aviation industry and this change is unlikely to improve consumer confidence significantly. It is essential that we find a safe alternative. Government must work quickly and decide upon a testing regime which can be put in place as soon as possible. The aviation sector cannot continue operating against these headwinds for much longer - AOA estimates more than 100,000 jobs are at risk unless the industry can re-start properly. A testing regime for UK aviation would help kick-start such a recovery.
ABTA ABTA, London
The Travel Association has been calling for the Government to take a regionalised approach to quarantine measures and Foreign Office travel advice to provide greater certainty for businesses and consumers. Today’s announcement regarding travel from specific islands to England is welcome and the industry hopes that this will in turn lead to a more targeted approach such as that adopted in Germany and the Netherlands, which would also reflect the UK’s domestic strategy of localised lockdowns. It also however highlights the requirement for a more coordinated approach from the home nations to prevent avoidable confusion.
Responding to the Secretary of State's statement in the House of Commons today, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “We welcome the Transport Secretary’s announcement that testing to shorten quarantine is under active consideration by the Government and that airbridges to islands will now be instated where appropriate. If introduced, these vital policy changes would show the Government understands how critical the restoration of air travel is to this country’s economic recovery. The Government needs to build on these developments and show global leadership to establish Common International Standards for testing before flight.”
Toby Clark, London
No proper statement today (Monday) by Transport Minister Grant Shapps. He said the government was "working actively on the practicalities" of using coronavirus testing to cut the 14-day quarantine period for people arriving in the UK from high-risk countries, whatever that means. And nothing about APD.
Christopher Smith, Woking
I'm surprised that the industry has not been lobbying the insurance companies to allow travel policies to stay valid for non Covid claims if FCO advises against travel. That way passengers assess their own Covid risks
Fred Miles, Newcastle
Much as it would be a gesture by the government unlike the eating out success I don’t think removing APD will make much difference except for long distance Business Class.