Airlines UK Chairman speaks at The Aviation Reception

July 12, 2017

Jane Middleton, Chairman of Airlines UK, addressed the Aviation Reception hosted in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 11th July. The event was supported by Airlines UK, ABTA, AOA, Bar-UK, IATA and Sustainable Aviation. Jane’s speech can be found below.

On behalf of Airlines UK and our airline members, I’m delighted to welcome you to the Aviation Reception along with Karen and Mark this afternoon.

Before I begin, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the other supporters of this event and particularly from an airline perspective I must highlight the support of IATA and BAR-UK for this reception. Combined, our three organisations represent virtually the entire UK and global airline sector. For clarity, that’s the airlines which facilitate trade and connect businesses, friends, families and visitors from all across the UK to the rest of the world.

As many of you are aware the list of key policy areas facing our industry at this time is extensive. However, today I want to focus on just three and it will come as no surprise that one of these is Brexit.

Airlines UK members are clear they want the UK to retain current market access to the EU, US and international destinations and for the Government to prioritise aviation issues in the Brexit negotiations. From the excellent dialogue we have had across Whitehall in recent months we recognise this is a high priority for Government and we look forward to continuing discussions.

In addition, there is a clear desire from UK industry to continue our membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). With all the EASA rules and regulations continuing to be applicable to UK operators and companies whilst the UK maintains full voting rights within EASA.

The second issue is the Airports National Policy Statement – the draft of which the Government released earlier this year. Airlines UK responded in detail to a number of questions raised in the document, but we were more concerned with something the NPS did not fully address: the issue of cost and affordability.

Although we have been reassured by previous comments from the Secretary of State that the Government is looking for the “right scheme at the right price”, we were disappointed that the draft NPS did not adequately take into account the issue of affordability. Our members do not support expansion at any price and any new infrastructure must be cost effective. Airline support for expansion at Heathrow is conditional upon charges being kept at current levels with the ambition for lower charges over time, and carriers reserve the right to withdraw their support if this does not happen. In addition, we feel there should be greater emphasis on the consumer – the manner in which consumers will be properly represented should be detailed explicitly within the NPS.  

The third area is the Aviation Strategy. We would urge that the process for the strategy is kept as simple as possible. We stand ready to work with and support the Government as it prepares to publish a series of Green Papers in the coming months, but there are several pressing areas that Ministers should be focusing on in the short-term – these include delivering expansion at Heathrow, modernising our airspace and working with the industry to improve operational resilience. There is no doubt that the Strategy is a useful opportunity to determine how best the Government can support our sector, however it must not become a distraction that hinders progress in the key areas.    

I am delighted to introduce the man responsible for delivering many of the things I have mentioned – Lord Callanan. Appointed Aviation Minister less than two weeks ago we welcome the opportunity to lay out our stall and hear from him here today. Please join me in welcoming the new Minister for Aviation – Lord Callanan.”