UK Airlines respond to the reopening of international travel to the United States for vaccinated UK citizens – “This is a major breakthrough which coupled with the removal of travel restrictions announced last week represents a substantial reopening of UK aviation”

Commenting on the reopening of international travel to the United States for vaccinated UK citizens, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“This is a major breakthrough which coupled with the removal of travel restrictions announced last week represents a substantial reopening of UK aviation. The US is one of our most important markets and the air corridor is worth billions of pounds a year in trade and tourism – safeguarding thousands of jobs. Things are moving in the right direction and Ministers deserve credit for getting us to this point. We look forward to seeing the full details so airlines can support seamless implementation in November.


“Obviously, there is more to be done – including the relaxation in due course of restrictions for unvaccinated passengers – but for now there is light at the end of the tunnel following 18 months of unprecedented uncertainty.”

Airlines UK Respond to Changes to Foreign Travel Restrictions

Commenting on the Government announcement on international travel, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“This is a positive step which moves us much closer to the reopening of UK aviation and provides greater reassurance to passengers desperate to travel. By reducing the number of red list destinations and scrapping PCR testing, Ministers have paved the way for people to get away this October half-term and into the winter following 18 months of uncertainty. It will provide a real shot in the arm for a sector that until now has not been allowed to trade properly. 


“That said, the insistence on keeping Day 2 testing still leaves us as an outlier across Europe, given most EU countries long ago removed this as a requirement for vaccinated passengers, and it is unclear why the UK has chosen to remain a special case. Until all restrictions are removed for the fully vaccinated the recovery can never be complete. But this is an excellent step forward.”

Airlines UK response to latest country list update

Commenting on the latest country list update, Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“This cycle needs to change. Despite nearly 80% of over 16s being fully vaccinated the UK remains an outlier, with only a small number of ‘green’ destinations making international travel from the UK more expensive, burdensome and uncertain compared to our neighbours despite most travel abroad being no riskier than our unrestricted travel within the UK. Too many families are having to look over their shoulders for rule changes, and pay through the nose for tests – with no sign from Government that this will change. 

As has already happened across Europe, it’s time for a more proportionate system where tests are dropped for the fully vaccinated and from destinations where Covid risks are low, with tougher measures targeted at a small number of high risk countries.”

Airlines respond to latest international travel announcement – “international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for”

Commenting on the Government announcement made today on international travel, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:


“This is another missed opportunity and with the summer season nearing its conclusion means international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for. This puts us at odds with our European neighbours and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the Prime Minister has spoken of.

“Alongside the continuation of expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped for expansion of the green list – which makes less sense by the day given where we are with the vaccination programme – this is yet another blow to the sector and families desperate to get away, and means the UK continues to open up far slower than the rest of Europe.”

UK airline CEOs letter to the Transport Secretary ahead of this week’s review of the traffic light system

Ahead of the Government’s review of the traffic light system this Thursday, UK airline CEOs wrote to the Transport Secretary outlining the key requirements for the review:


Dear Secretary of State,


As leaders of UK aviation, we welcomed this week’s announcement that fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US will be exempt from quarantine requirements. Having fallen far behind our competitors, this is a positive step that will help close that gap, reunite families, and get businesses moving again.

However, we must now build on this momentum by adding more countries to the Green list next week and by reducing the still onerous and increasingly disproportionate burden of testing on travellers. We are increasingly concerned that the UK is not on a path to a sustainable recovery of aviation, due to the continued restrictions that are being imposed on international travel.

In the UK our ‘vaccine wall’ means over 70% of people are now double jabbed and nearly 90% have had a single dose. Case numbers are dropping. Vaccination patterns are similar in many of our key markets not least in the EU and US and latest data from Canada shows vaccines to be highly effective against all variants, including Beta. PHE’s own data shows both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines offer extremely high protection against hospitalisations from Delta, 75% after one dose and 94% protection after two.

The world has changed since the inception of the traffic light system, and ‘Green status’ should increasingly become a default, given the changing risk equation, and mirroring the approach to domestic restrictions. On this basis there is no reason why, and it is essential, that much of Europe including the key volume markets, the US, Caribbean and other major markets, cannot turn green next week in time for the remainder of the summer peak.

If the testing regime remains in place, with its cost and administrative burden, it will have a huge impact on UK aviation – acting effectively as around a £100 tax on flights, on average. It is unclear whether the Government has understood this risk. We have seen no evidence that this regime is necessary for fully vaccinated travellers or those from Green countries, or that effective, cheaper rapid tests cannot be used from higher risk destinations.

We are today seeing no real recovery in customer confidence. The UK aviation recovery is far behind countries in Europe. Travel bookings in Germany are now at 60 per cent of 2019 levels. France is at 48 per cent. Here in the UK, we are booking just 16 per cent of trips compared to pre-pandemic. This is not sustainable.

Despite tentative steps forward, time is fast running out to put the UK’s aviation, travel and tourism industries back on track for a sustainable recovery to protect the millions of jobs they support. We cannot afford to stand still over this vital summer period, and urge you to act.


Yours sincerely

  • Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive, Airlines UK
  • Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic Limited
  • Johan Lundgren, Chief Executive Officer, easyJet
  • Sean Doyle, Chief Executive, British Airways
  • Steve Heapy, Chief Executive Officer, Limited
  • Jonathan Hinkles, Chief Executive, Loganair
  • Edward Wilson, Chief Executive, Ryanair DAC
  • Andrew Flintham, Managing Director, TUI UK & Ireland

Airlines respond to Government’s relaxation of restrictions for US and EU arrivals – “a positive step that should pave the way for a return to unrestricted travel in the future”

Commenting on the Government announcement made today on international travel, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:


“Exemptions for all fully vaccinated travellers is undoubtedly a positive move, offering a lifeline for thousands of businesses reliant on international inbound travel. It also begins to deliver the vaccine dividend for millions more people, for friends and family to reconnect, and for businesses to travel and trade overseas again. 


“Ministers should combine this progress with moving more low-risk countries from the Amber to Green list next week to allow more people to travel safely and with confidence. The evidence suggests many more EU countries should go green and this remains the best way to provide passengers with the reassurance to book, along with the removal of onerous testing requirements which are adding hundreds of pounds unnecessarily to the cost of travel.”  


“This is still nowhere near the summer season passengers were hoping for, and we remain the only sector that is not allowed to trade on a pre-pandemic basis. But today is a positive step that should pave the way for a return to unrestricted travel in the future.”

Aviation Jobs in Great Britain

New report shows how critical aviation jobs are to every constituency across Britain

  • New report shows that the aviation industry supports over 536,000 direct jobs across every region and nation of Great Britain.
  • Data also shows how vital aviation jobs are to local communities, with one in four Westminster constituencies estimated to have more than 1,000 people employed in the sector.
  • Many constituencies are heavily reliant on aviation for local employment, including:
    • Crawley – over 10,000 aviation jobs
    • Brentford and Isleworth – 8,500 jobs
    • Feltham and Heston – 7,500 jobs
    • Derby South – 7,000 jobs
    • Wythenshawe and Sale East – 4,400 jobs
    • Filton and Bradley Stoke – 3,150 jobs
    • The Prime Minister’s own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is reliant on aviation for over 3,350 jobs
  • Average salaries in aviation industry are between 22% – 60% above the national average

A new report, commissioned by Airlines UK and supported by Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airports Group and TUI, shows how critical aviation jobs are to every community and constituency in the country.

Read the report here. Find the detailed data dashboard here.

Data shows just how important aviation is at a local level. Pre-pandemic, over a quarter of all constituencies in Great Britain had more than 1,000 people employed in aviation jobs. Many communities are heavily reliant on aviation, with 5,000 or more residents employed in the sector within airlines, airports or aerospace manufacturers and their suppliers. A further 60% of constituencies in Britain have 500 or more residents working in aviation, demonstrating the wide reach and importance of aviation as a generator of jobs across the whole country.

Importantly, these are well-paid jobs, with average salaries in airlines, airports and aerospace in all cases exceeding the regional average, and between 22% – 60% above the national average.

Read a constituency by constituency breakdown here.

Data shows that before the current crisis the aviation industry directly employed over 530,000 people across the country, reaching every nation and region: the North-East is home to 10,000 people working in the sector; Wales 21,000; the West Midlands 32,000. These numbers exclude those in jobs that would not exist without aviation such as airport retail, hotels, or tourism, so the overall jobs impact will be even higher.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:
“This report clearly sets out the importance of the UK aviation sector in supporting livelihoods in local communities throughout the entire country. Almost every constituency in the UK is impacted, and many are truly dependant on the well-paid jobs aviation generates. However, today the pandemic continues to put these roles at risk, with a meaningful restart to air travel still yet to materialise.
“First and foremost, safeguarding these livelihoods means getting the sector moving again in a proper way, reopening international travel as our rivals across Europe are doing rather than the piecemeal approach we have currently. But it will also require additional, dedicated economic support including furlough extension that recognises aviation’s ongoing crisis, and our longer road to recovery than almost all other sectors.”

Henry Smith MP, Member of Parliament for Crawley, representing the largest aviation workforce in the country with over 10,000 jobs, said:
“With Gatwick within our boundaries it’s not surprising that Crawley is home to more aviation jobs than any other constituency, but the importance of the sector is UK-wide as an internationally connected trading nation. That’s why we need to allow operational recovery from Covid-19 restrictions and ongoing support, such as furlough extension, to save as many jobs as possible at this unprecedented time.”

Diana Holland, Unite Assistant General Secretary, Transport, said:
“Aviation workers are skilled, professional and dedicated people who need extended furlough support now. As long as the Government requires Covid restrictions to travel, then they must also provide support to protect jobs, retain skills and ensure there is a meaningful, sustainable, resilient aviation sector in place in the UK. Aviation keeps us connected, transporting freight like medicines, as well as people. As this report shows, and as Unite has been saying since the beginning of the pandemic, airports and aviation support thousands of jobs across many sectors in communities, as well as vital work in the aerospace sector. Without support all are at high risk.” 


Read the report here and the constituency by constituency breakdown here.

Airlines UK appoints Lord McLoughlin as new Chairman

The Executive Committee of Airlines UK has today announced the appointment of Lord McLoughlin CH as its new Chairman.


Lord McLoughlin, who has had an extensive career at the top of UK politics for more than 30 years, will take up the position on 1 August, replacing Jane Middleton, who has completed her second 3-year term.


Patrick McLoughlin was the Member of Parliament for Derbyshire Dales between 1986 and 2019. His experience in Government included two years as Government Chief Whip from 2010-2012, four years as Secretary of State for Transport between 2012 and 2016, and two years as Chairman of the Conservative Party and Chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster from 2016 to 2018. During the Thatcher and Major Governments, he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for aviation between 1989 and 1992.


In September 2020, Lord McLoughlin took his seat in the House of Lords.


Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said:


“We are thrilled that following an extensive recruitment process we have secured the services of Patrick as Chairman of Airlines UK. He brings with him unrivalled experience of Government and the political process, and a real passion for and understanding of aviation gained through his period as a Minister and Secretary of State. During these unprecedented times, his knowledge, and the respect in which he is held will stand the Association in good stead, as we look to emerge out of the pandemic, and myself and the Executive team are looking forward to working with him.


“It has been a real pleasure to work alongside Jane these past six years, who has provided excellent leadership and support to me and the team, and has had a hugely positive impact on the development of the association. Her love for aviation is infectious and she will no doubt go on to achieve many more great things in the sector over the coming years.”


Lord McLoughlin said:


“I am delighted to be taking up this role at such a critical time for the industry. Aviation has always been an area of interest for me – even outside my formal duties at the Department for Transport – and I believe strongly that despite the past 16 months the UK airlines’ sector has a strong future ahead of it, if we can work collaboratively with Ministers on providing the support – economic and otherwise – that it needs to prepare for the coming challenges. 


“We need to realise what we have in this country – the most dynamic, competitive and consumer-friendly aviation sector in the world but this shouldn’t be taken for granted and needs nurturing. There is much that we can achieve if we work together in the spirit of partnership. 


“I pay tribute to Jane’s outstanding leadership these past 6 years, which has seen so much change in a short space of time, and look forward to building on her legacy.”


Jane Middleton said:


“It has been an honour to Chair Airlines UK for the past six years, during which time the organisation and wider aviation industry has changed almost beyond recognition. Working closely with our world-class airlines has allowed me to see up close what a force for good aviation really is and how proud we should be as a country to have such a competitive and thriving industry, be it passenger or cargo, domestic or international. 


“Never has the work of an industry body been more important than it is now and I am delighted to pass the baton to Patrick who I know that, along with Tim and the Executive team, will continue to take the organisation from strength to strength as we build back stronger, greener and better from the pandemic.”

Airlines UK respond to Scottish Government announcement on international travel – “This is a positive step forward, which must be accompanied by further progress”

Commenting on the Scottish Government announcement made today on international travel, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:


“This is a positive step forward that will provide much more opportunity for families to travel this summer season, and offer greater certainty and reassurance to our passengers looking to get away. It must, however, in short time be accompanied by further progress on the Green list, opening up many more countries to quarantine-free travel for everyone, as well as testing – with the Scottish Government providing more and cheaper options for post-arrival tests. Travel this summer must be within reach and affordable for all, not just the wealthy.”

Airlines respond to Government announcement on international travel – “a positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for”

Commenting on the Government announcement made today on international travel, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“This is a positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for. Opening up the market for the rest of the summer, this announcement will provide far greater opportunities to travel, do business and see family and friends, and enable many more of our customers to book with certainty. The summer season essentially starts here. 

“Airlines look forward to working with Ministers and Border Force to ensure measures are in place by 19 July to provide a safe and streamlined experience at the UK border. We now urge the Government to continue this momentum by adding many more countries to the green list next week and removing onerous testing requirements at its next review on 31 July, thereby opening up more non-quarantine travel to all.”