Airport operators demand ‘recovery plan’ from government

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) called on the government today for “a clear recovery plan” for aviation, insisting “the job is not done” despite the recent easing of restrictions on travel.

However, aviation minister Robert Courts insisted the relaxation of restrictions “shows we have been listening”.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee told the AOA annual conference: “Despite the recent welcome changes we still have a complicated system.

“The government has some way to go to set out a pathway to getting back to international travel with no restrictions.”

She noted: “Other countries took a more pragmatic view and have seen passenger numbers recover more quickly. That has meant airlines moving fleets to where they can make more use of them.

“Europe’s restart has largely been driven by a more pragmatic approach to intra-European travel. Double vaccinated passengers no longer need to do any testing.

“Despite great progress on vaccines in the UK we didn’t see the kind of recovery we were hoping for.

“We’re seeing some boost in demand for the autumn and removal of the day two PCR test will instill more confidence. But we do not see this as job done.”

Dee insisted: “The government can’t ignore the fact that we’ve had 20 months with no income. Furlough was welcome and we’ve had business rates support, but both have come to an end and we’re in the loss-making season.

“We’re not yet in recovery mode. We need a clear plan from government, a recovery plan to provide a supportive environment through policy and fiscal measures.”

However, aviation minister Robert Courts told the conference: “I hope everything you’ve seen recently shows we have been listening.”

He said “I would like to see more working together” and insisted: “We will fight the corner of aviation.”

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