Airlines UK, the industry association that represents UK-registered carriers, has set out a number of manifesto ‘asks’ ahead of the General Election in June, with Brexit, taxation and airport capacity at the top of its list of priorities.
A number of policy areas are listed on which action is required in the next Parliament to create a framework that will encourage UK airlines to compete, grow and deliver more in the years ahead.
- Brexit – Safeguard EU, US and international market access for airlines; continue UK membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) with all EASA rules and regulations applied to UK operators and companies based here and the UK continuing to receive full voting rights within EASA; continue UK involvement in the development of Single European Sky (SES), and participation in SESAR; retain ability to employ staff from across Europe post-Brexit and protect current employment rights for those already employed in the UK or elsewhere in the EU; ensure there are no further restrictions to UK border arrangements.
- Airport capacity – Continue to express commitment to expansion at Heathrow airport at a reasonable cost, with charges reducing over time with increased movements; put in place a policy framework that supports growth in aviation at other UK airports, through airspace modernisation, surface access improvements and operational changes that enhance resilience.
- Tax – Abolish APD in the next Parliament to transform the UK’s international competitiveness, boost trade and support tourism; ensure that reductions in APD in Scotland do not cause competitive distortions in other parts of the UK.
- Sustainability – Deliver legislation for including all sustainable aviation fuel producers in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. Provide a clear long-term policy to encourage UK sustainable aviation fuel production.
- Borders and Visas – Give Border Force the resources it needs to deliver a safe and secure border while meeting passenger and airline expectations for queue times and customer service; ensure there is no relaxation of current targets for queue times at the border and that these times are benchmarked regularly against our competitors; if a UK Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is introduced for some non-visa nationals ensure the scheme is user friendly and cost effective; improve the competitiveness of the UK visa system in China and other important markets like India.
- Disruptive passengers – Amend the Air Navigation Order to make consumption of a passenger’s own alcohol onboard an aircraft a criminal offence.
Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: “UK aviation is uniquely placed to deliver the Government’s vision of a global, outward looking Britain. Airlines – whether full service, low-cost, charter or freight – play a key role as economic enablers of GDP, connecting all regions of the UK to countries across the world, including many of the important economies that, post-Brexit, the UK will be seeking closer ties with. However, there are obstacles to maximising this opportunity and it is in these areas that we ask Ministers to work with us in the next Parliament.
“Brexit will continue to be an area of major interest, with aviation providing important economic connections that must continue once the UK leaves the EU. We look forward to the EU and UK reaching an agreement as soon as possible that allows consumers and businesses from all European countries to continue to travel to and from the UK and around Europe just as they do today.
“The airline community will continue to support expansion at Heathrow, provided it is delivered at a reasonable cost with charges reducing over time with increased movements. Airlines are clear that the cost of expansion they and their customers pay for is a key factor. We need the right scheme at the right price, at the right time, to meet the needs of passengers.
“That said, with a new runway not expected to be operational for many years the Government needs to take steps to encourage airlines to develop new routes from other airports. This means encouraging free and open competition and not picking winners for expansion. Surface access improvements, reductions to APD, airspace modernisation and operational changes that enhance resilience will help to widen catchment areas and make more routes viable.”