28 JUNE 2021
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The much-heralded appearance of Aviation Minister Robert Courts failed to materialise at last Tuesday’s ABTA ‘Travel Matters’ conference.
His short notice non-presence “due to a late diary clash” was not appreciated by Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA, the travel trade organisation, who was initially diplomatic with his response but, as an interview with LBC’s Tom Swarbrick continued, got more and more angry. House of Commons Transport Select Committee Chairman Huw Merryman took over at short notice Mr Courts spot with an interview, his strong comments more or less reflecting those of ABTA.
“This is the darkest hour for the travel industry,” said Tanzer, “Though it is said the darkest hour is just before dawn, we need to see the light soon.”
At the video conference TUI UK boss Andrew Flintham blasted the Prime Minister and Chancellor for failing to have “even one meeting” with the industry as he confirmed the travel giant had officially become an interested party in Manchester Airport Group’s legal action against government.
Flintham said that the company had worked closely with the Department for Transport throughout the pandemic, including two Global Travel Taskforces, and attended 103 working groups, been present at 36 expert steering groups and roundtables and had eight meetings with ministers and officials.
He said: “Unlike crises we’ve faced before, the pandemic has shown what happens when you have a government that simply does not understand how an industry works.”
Another contributor to the day’s event Sir Stephen Hillier, Chair, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), spoke of the ongoing Air Travel Organisers' Licence (ATOL) consultation. Sir Stephen said the CAA is aware of the “trying and challenging” circumstances for the industry and is doing all it can within its regulatory authority to support the sector while looking after consumers.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
James Dunnitt, Wadebridge, Cornwall
Robert Courts has been seen around in various Zoom aviation events in recent months and it beggars belief he failed to put in an appearance this time. All that was needed was 30 minutes live remotely during the day.