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Crawley MP launches new cross-party group to fight for future of UK aviation

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Crawley’s MP Henry Smith has launched a new cross-party group of MPs to fight for the future of UK aviation after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Crawley MP is Chair of the Future of Aviation Group which will seek to highlight the importance of a vibrant aviation sector to consumers, businesses and the overall UK economy. The Group is urging ministers to introduce measures to support the recovery of the UK’s aviation sector.

Henry said;

“It is of course right that public health concerns remain the Government’s most urgent priority, but the level of support from MPs from all sides and from all regions reflects the pressing need for the Government to provide much more support to our aviation sector, given that aviation is one of the sectors worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Aviation will be vital to our long-term economic recovery at national and local levels and it is high time that Government avoid any further delay and introduce financial measures that support the aviation industry; the businesses, employees and the communities who depend on it.

“We cannot allow Britain’s economic and social recovery to be held back through a failure to support our aviation industry. As a global, island trading nation the consequences of continuing inaction are unthinkable.”

The Group has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, setting out several urgent questions about the Government’s actions to date together with demands for further urgent policy intervention.

You can read the full letter by clicking here.

The letter to the Secretary of State raises several points, including:

  • How often will the 14-day quarantine period be reviewed, and will Government prioritise ‘air bridges’ to restart safe travel to and from low risk countries?
  • What discussions have been held at an international level to find a Common International Standard for aviation health protocols to build consumer confidence?
  • What discussions have been held with local authorities and airport representatives regarding central Government support for business rates relief?
  • What consideration has been given to financial measures to support the restart of domestic aviation and to protect vital regional routes?
  • What additional support can be made available to local authorities and the aviation supply chain until passenger numbers increase?
  • What assessment has been made of the importance of aviation to the nation’s economic recovery?
  • What assessment has been made of the likely timescale of the recovery of businesses in the tourism sector who are reliant on international tourism?
  • What assessment has been made of the opportunity to support low carbon aviation technologies as a way to support UK economic recovery and help aviation deliver its net zero commitment?

The creation of the Future of Aviation Group is Henry’s latest intervention on this issue.

Henry added;

“With Gatwick Airport being such a key local employer I’m very conscious of the Crawley economy being reliant on the aviation and travel industry.

“I’ll continue my representations with ministers, airports and airlines on behalf of the Crawley workers, families, businesses and customers for whom this sector is so important.”

Business

Crawley MP Henry Smith launches aviation recovery plan

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Crawley MP and Future of Aviation Group Chair Henry Smith has launched the Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan to support the sector through the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Henry said;

“I’ve established and Chair the Future of Aviation Group, a cross-party coalition of MPs supporting the sector and urging the Government to take further action to assist this world-class industry.

“While Government deserves credit for stepping in and furloughing around 44,000 airline employees, it’s clear that the aviation sector needs further support for its employees.

“With Gatwick Airport in our borough boundary I’ve been clear that aviation’s recovery is not only about flights and trade, but what this vital sector means to hard-working families and whose employees have, in many cases, given significant periods of their lives to their careers.

“For their security we’re calling for a sector-specific extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“I’m asking the Transport Secretary and his Cabinet colleagues to support the Future of Aviation Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan, which has protecting jobs and supporting businesses at its heart.”

The points included in the plan are;

    1: Introduce COVID-19 testing

    2: Introduce regional travel corridors

    3: An employment support package to March 2021

    4: Support the green recovery

    5: Take action on business rates

    6: Temporary suspension of Air Passenger Duty

    7: Support for UK travel inbound tourism

    8: Absorption of CAA/NATS charges for 2020-21

    9: Airspace modernisation

    10: Bring forward public procurement and accelerate public investment

Henry continued;

“It’s estimated that it could take a number of years to get international travel figures up to 2019 levels. We’ve heard the warnings, and it is time for action.

“The scale of the challenges encountered by the aviation, travel and tourism sectors would have been unimaginable only six months ago.

“Through the adoption of these and other policy recommendations being made by the Future of Aviation Group, the Government can reduce the scale of disruption of COVID-19 on this important industry for Crawley and UK-wide.”

The Future of Aviation Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan can be read here

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