A new report from the Transport Committee has set out positive actions for the government to support the recovery and development of the aviation sector after the pandemic.
The Transport Committee’s report concludes that the Government’s restrictions on air travel throughout the pandemic were disproportionate to the risks to public health, causing a severe financial shock to the sector.
The report makes recommendations on international travel including testing, consumer rights, domestic air travel, sustainable aviation and slot rules. Some of the key actions for the government include:
- Introduce an Airline Insolvency Bill in the next Session of Parliament.
- Upgrade the power of the Civil Aviation Authority to impose financial penalties on airlines that do not refund customers when required.
- Intervene to establish safe and affordable coronavirus testing options for travel, still required by other countries.
- Implement more flexible rules on Public Service Obligation routes and Air Passenger Duty to improve connectivity between the four UK nations.
- Urgently address the delivery of the airspace modernisation strategy.
- Delay proposed landing charge increases at Heathrow Airport by one year to monitor the progress of the sector’s recovery.
In April 2022, airport passenger numbers increased to their highest since the start of the pandemic, putting pressure on the sector during the Easter holidays.
The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:
“Now that Government has removed all coronavirus-related restrictions on international travel, ministers must get on with protecting the sector against future economic shocks and reassuring passengers that future restrictions will only be implemented in extreme circumstances. Legislation is urgently needed to give the industry more flexibility to recruit new staff for the summer, to give the regulator more teeth to intervene on behalf of consumers and to provide protection from airline insolvencies.
“Today we set out sensible recommendations with the aim of helping Government to achieve this. Above all, we want ministers to be transparent with industry and passengers. Over Easter, we witnessed a sector in the early stages of recovery and vulnerable to disruption. The increase in demand is encouraging but a sustained and supportive approach from Government is vital to nurse the sector back to recovery.”