A cross-party group of MPs has joined travel industry leaders in demanding urgent action from government to support the aviation sector.
The new Future of Aviation Group issued the call in a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
The 40 MPs complain of “the lack of progress” in providing wider support for the industry.
They also want to know how often the government will review the planned quarantine for new arrivals from June 8.
People entering the UK from abroad will be told to isolate for 14 days or face a £1,000 fine.
The quarantine plan has already attracted fierce criticism from the travel industry, with more than 70 travel bosses calling on home secretary Priti Patel to abandon the idea.
The Future of Aviation Group, led by Henry Smith, MP for the Gatwick constituency of Crawley, called on the government to prioritise ‘air bridges’ to restart safe travel to and from low-risk countries.
“The wider aviation family makes a significant economic and social contribution to the UK and will be central to our long-term economic recovery,” they told Shapps.
“We are therefore concerned at the lack of progress being made in providing wider support for the industry and in the development of a long-term roadmap that will enable the sector to recover as quickly as possible and play its vital role in our national overall economic recovery.
“We need urgent action now to safeguard jobs, the UK’s international competitivities as an aviation hub and, crucially, to ensure that our economy recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
“The consequences of inaction in this vital area are simply unthinkable.”
The letter to the highlights several issues, 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?
Smith 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 intervention from MPs came as easyJet revealed plans to cut about 4,500 jobs – up to 30% of its workforce – following culls at British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair.
A Home Office spokesperson told the BBC: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.
“We continue to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world. However, it is right that we introduce these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”
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