UK airlines respond to appointment of new Transport Secretary

Commenting on the appointment of Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP as the new Secretary of State for Transport, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:


“UK airlines congratulate Liz Truss on becoming Prime Minister and Anne-Marie Trevelyan on her appointment as Secretary of State for Transport. The UK is a proud aviation nation, whose network of domestic and international air links – the third largest globally – is vital to our shared prosperity, connecting people, businesses and goods and facilitating the economic activity that will be the catalyst for long-term growth. Aviation is truly a sector where the UK can lead the world.


“The potential for our sector is vast. Through innovation and the mutual endeavour of our engineers and manufacturing base, we are meeting the challenge of decarbonising air travel, partnering with Government to create thousands of highly skilled jobs across the UK, greater energy security and valuable export potential for our companies. There is more still to do – from completing airspace modernisation to developing a thriving UK SAF industry – but the foundation is there for the UK to be a jet zero pioneer.


“Delivering on this agenda will allow UK aviation and its base carriers to continue doing what they do best. Providing more choice and competition for families and consumers whilst enabling the connectivity that will link the UK and its businesses to all parts of the world. We look forward to furthering this work.”

UK airlines respond to Jet Zero Strategy launch

Commenting on the publication of the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:


“UK airlines welcome the Jet Zero Strategy, which must act as a launchpad for the vital action needed this decade and beyond to deliver net zero aviation by 2050. Flying is not the enemy – carbon is – and this strategy demonstrates that a sustainable future for aviation is possible through the development of new, zero emission technologies like hydrogen, upscaling and commercialising the use of sustainable aviation fuels – made here in the UK – developing carbon markets and greenhouse gas removal technologies, and completing airspace modernisation – allowing us to enjoy all the good things aviation can offer whilst driving down its environmental impact.


“More progress is required to get us to that point, though, in particular on SAF. The commitment to seeing the initial handful of SAF plants under construction by 2025 is hugely welcome, and we know the proposed mandate will drive demand from airlines in what is a proven technology. The challenge now is to commercialise this nascent industry, and we look forward to working with Government this year to see if further interventions are required to stimulate investment in UK SAF, in particular by ensuring a level of price stability that can attract new entrants into the market.”

Airlines respond to CAA Heathrow Airport announcement – “a positive announcement that brings down the cost of using the airport for consumers”

Commenting on the announcement today from the Civil Aviation Authority on Heathrow Airport passenger charges, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:


“This is a positive announcement that brings down the cost of using the airport for consumers, taking into account the robust recovery we’ve seen for air travel since the pandemic. Charges are, though, still too high at Heathrow – the most expensive airport in the world – and so the CAA can and should go further to bring it into line with other European hubs. This is fundamental to the competitiveness of all of UK aviation as we emerge out of the worse crisis in its history.”

UK Airlines Response to Aviation Strategy Publication

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said:


“There can be no ‘Global Britain’ without the air connectivity that UK airlines deliver. We welcome the publication of this strategy and look forward to working with Ministers to ensure UK aviation and its based carriers receive the support they need to recover and prosper. This means recognising the critical role of UK-registered airlines in connecting us to the world, and that the domestic and international routes they provide are strategic assets for the UK, delivering tens of thousands of jobs across the country, export opportunities and supporting inward investment and tourism.


“We look forward to a laser-like focus from government on the levers it can pull to make the UK a truly competitive, global aviation hub and a recognition that sustainable air travel – committed to net zero emissions – can be a force for good for mobility, livelihoods, society as a whole and the economy for years to come.”

Response to first net zero transatlantic flight announcement

In response to the Transport Secretary’s announcement of plans for the first net zero transatlantic flight, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK said:


“UK airlines strongly support the development of a UK Sustainable Aviation Fuel industry, which will play a vital role in helping our sector deliver net zero emissions by 2050, as we are committed to doing. This announcement will provide additional momentum to achieving this and, alongside the recent £180m in Treasury support for the development of new UK SAF plants, demonstrates the commitment of Government to making SAF a key part of the decarbonisation of aviation. We now need to turbocharge production in order to build the initial 3 SAF plants by 2025 and UK airlines have shown real commitment to making this happen with our partnerships with Phillips 66, Velocys and LanzaTech.


“We look forward to working with Ministers through the Jet Zero Council to continue to explore mechanisms to attract the required private investment – in addition to a planned mandate – so we can help deliver the Government’s 10% SAF uptake goal by 2030.”

Airlines UK response to the Transport Select Committee report on aviation and the pandemic

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said:

“We always said there was huge pent-up demand for travel and that’s been demonstrated by the surge in bookings we’ve seen since the Covid restrictions were removed. This summer should be a bumper one and for many routes we’re seeing demand above where we were in 2019. But we can’t lose sight of the fact the sector has been through its worst ever crisis and it will take several years to deal with the debt airlines had to take on to make it through the pandemic with no passengers.

“The Government is about to publish an Aviation Strategy and we need it to focus ruthlessly on the areas where they can really make a difference, including setting the policy framework that will allow the sector to introduce and invest in sustainable aviation fuels at scale, and modernising the UK’s airspace as quickly as possible to further progress our net zero commitments. On so many of the Government’s big set-piece policy ambitions – Global Britain, energy independence, investment in skills and the green jobs of the future – aviation can play its part, and begin the process of putting the past two years behind us.”

Airlines respond to removal of remaining Covid travel restrictions – “The UK travel sector is back”

Commenting on the announcement today on the removal of remaining Covid travel restrictions, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:  


“Today’s announcement sends a clear message to the world – the UK travel sector is back. With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality throughout the travel experience. We’re grateful for the timing of the announcement as we prepare to welcome back passengers this Easter and Summer, for which we know there is huge pent-up demand, and for the UK’s leadership in being the first major aviation market to remove all remaining restrictions. The time to return to the skies – to enjoy all that makes aviation and international travel great, for families and businesses – is now.”

Airlines respond to Government consultation on air passenger rights

Commenting on the announcement of a Government consultation on air passenger rights, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:  

 “Airlines work hard to ensure that the passenger experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Put simply, without their customers carriers would not exist. This is borne out by the most recent CAA tracker – conducted during the pandemic – which showed net satisfaction with aviation at 82%. We look forward to responding to the consultation, whilst continuing to deliver for our passengers as we look ahead to the spring and summer season and the sector’s eventual recovery from Covid.”

Airlines respond to international travel announcement – “a landmark day for passengers, businesses and UK plc”

Commenting on the changes announced today to international travel restrictions, Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“This is a landmark day for passengers, businesses and UK plc. Nearly two years since the initial Covid restrictions were introduced, today’s announcement brings international travel towards near-normality for the fully vaccinated, and at last into line with hospitality and the domestic economy. It will offer further reassurance to those planning to travel, both overseas and into the UK, and demonstrates again that following the success of the vaccine programme, the UK can lead the world in our recovery from the pandemic. 

 “With the all-important half-term week approaching, passengers should now get booking, and airlines look forward to using the connectivity they’re proud to facilitate to turbo-charge the economic recovery for all of the UK.”  

Airlines UK and MAG call for return to restriction-free travel, as study shows testing is not effective against new variants

Testing rules should become a thing of the past for fully-vaccinated travellers, according to findings of a study today published by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Airlines UK.

The research – conducted by specialist consultants Oxera and Edge Health – provides the evidence to support the removal of remaining testing requirements when Government reviews international travel restrictions next week.

Findings from the new study, which MAG and Airlines UK have submitted to Ministers ahead of their review, shows that governments are not able to implement travel restrictions quickly enough for them to be effective in limiting the spread of new, more infectious variants.

As a result, imposing travel restrictions in response to the discovery of a new variant will not help control the spread of a new variant or protect public health.

Pre-departure and post-arrival PCR tests were scrapped on 5th January after Government accepted that they served no purpose once the Omicron variant had become dominant in the UK. That led to calls from across the industry to scrap the remaining requirement for post-arrival Lateral Flow Tests, a call MAG and Airlines UK is reinforcing today.

As Omicron showed, it takes several weeks before governments become aware of new variants, and even longer to assess if they are variants of concern.  By the time a new variant has been discovered and evaluated, it is too late for restrictions to make any difference.

Retaining testing measures on a permanent, but precautionary basis would have huge long-term consequences for passengers and the travel sector. The study shows that even if current testing measures were kept in place indefinitely, they would only delay the spread of a new variant in the UK by between three and five days.

The permanent use of testing as a ‘first line of defence’ delivers benefits far too small to offset the economic and social damage caused by such restrictions, the study concludes. Even such ongoing measures would only buy a handful of days in delaying the peak but would cost the UK economy between £8bn and £11bn per year.

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish said:

“It is critical that travel policies are based on the best available analysis and the latest findings from Oxera and Edge Health show conclusively that testing for international travel will not deliver significant benefits in managing the spread of new variants.

“As we learn to live with COVID-19, it is important that people are allowed to travel free of the additional cost and uncertainty which testing creates. This study provides Ministers with the clear evidence that this is achievable.

“The UK Government has taken the step the remove domestic restrictions, and it should now apply this approach to international travel. We must allow the country’s worst hit sector to resume its road to recovery, and for the UK economy to benefit from the billions of pounds of economic value aviation generates.”

Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade said:

“Testing restrictions for the fully vaccinated make no sense at all given the delay in Governments being able to detect and act on the arrival of a new variant, as we saw with Omicron. This is something the World Health Organisation themselves have admitted. Not only do they fail to suppress the international spread of variants, they place a disproportionate burden on the travel sector and those that rely on the connectivity aviation provides.

“We need to be smarter in how we deal with future variants rather than resorting to blanket but wholly ineffective measures. Otherwise we will never be able to truly say we are ‘living with Covid’”  

Airlines UK and MAG, which owns Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, are calling on Ministers to not only remove all remaining restrictions on international travel, but to reconsider their role in reacting to future variants of coronavirus, considering the marginal positive impact they deliver.

This latest research follows a previous Oxera study commissioned by MAG and Airlines UK, published on 5th January, which showed that removing all testing requirement this month would have no impact on the spread of Omicron in the UK. The study also concluded that additional testing measures introduced in November and December last year in response to Omicron had little to no impact on case rates in the UK.

Businesses across the sector felt the very real effect that the sudden re-introduction of testing could have, with the recovery of passenger numbers at MAG’s airports falling by more than 30% after Omicron measures were introduced.