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Plan B Needed for Britain’s Aviation Sector

June 11, 2021.

Heathrow CEO: Ministers need a Plan B for Britain’s aviation sector if it remains grounded.

Heathrow has faced 15 consecutive months of supressed demand, and with the UK's travel industry still severely curtailed, passenger numbers continue to languish at 90% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels representing a loss of over 6 million passengers in the month.

Image - Kevan James

One month after Government hailed the restart of international travel and assured the public that a risk-based traffic light system would unlock low-risk travel, the system has yet to achieve what it was designed to do. Ministers’ refusal to provide transparency on the data behind the decision making and failure to introduce a green ‘watchlist’ has undermined consumer confidence. At the next review on June 28th, the Government must rely on the science and restart travel to low-risk countries like the US, clear a pathway to restriction-free travel for vaccinated passengers and replace expensive PCR tests with lateral flow for low-risk arrivals.

With Ministers now promising to prioritise the domestic unlock and no clear end date to travel restrictions, a bespoke support plan for the beleaguered and neglected travel industry must be forthcoming. The sector employs tens of thousands of people across Britain who will be wondering what will happen to their jobs and livelihoods after another lost summer. The Government should provide targeted compensation to the sector, starting with business rates relief and an extension to the furlough scheme whilst Ministers continue to keep travel locked down.

Above - The Boeing 747, already nearing the end of its working life before the pandemic, was a quick victim of the world