UK airlines – Heathrow decision “extremely disappointing. Airports Commission showed Heathrow was only game in town”

Commenting on the decision today by the Court of Appeal on Heathrow expansion , Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, said:

“Today’s decision is extremely disappointing. The Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission spent several years looking at airport capacity in the South East and was clear Heathrow is the only game in town, with other schemes being considered and ultimately rejected. The economic prize is enormous if expansion is done right, with airlines ready to respond to the unlocking of new capacity by creating new routes and helping to connect the UK to new markets and destinations, and Heathrow to regions across the country. UK aviation has committed to net zero carbon by 2050 and this factors in the emissions created by Heathrow expansion. It is not a question of being pro-aviation or pro-environment.

“Of course, the advantages of an extra runway won’t be realised if landing charges are ramped up and airlines can’t afford to operate at the airport – and our support for expansion will remain conditional upon Heathrow delivering on their commitment to keep charges at current levels – but we are clear that as a country we cannot keep fudging this issue if we are to maintain our credibility internationally, and we urge Ministers to appeal the decision, back expansion publicly, and ensure it delivers for the whole country.”

Airlines & airports call for action on APD in the Budget

Calling on the Chancellor to take decisive action on APD in the upcoming Budget, Airlines UK Chief Executive Tim Alderslade and Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said:

“The UK is only European country that saw direct connectivity decline two years’ in a row. Because the UK levies at least double the tax on flights that our European trading rivals do, UK businesses are missing out on vital connectivity to build the trading relationships our departure from the EU is making possible.

“UK regions are missing out especially, including in their domestic connectivity. The Chancellor should use the ongoing APD review to put an end to our sky-high aviation taxes so UK aviation can genuinely compete with Germany, France and other EU countries for international connectivity.

“Airlines will respond with more routes and greater investment in the regions of the UK, enabling airports to help level up their regions.”


Notes to Editors:

1. ACI EUROPE’s Airport Industry Connectivity Report 2018 and 2019 showed UK connectivity declining. The reports are available here:

2. APD is charged per person on departures from UK airports. There are different rates for economy class (the reduced rate), business/first class (the standard rate), short haul (Band A) and long haul (Band B). The higher rate of APD is levied on business jets. The rates from April 1st, 2020 are set to be:

Destination bands Reduced rate Standard rate Higher rate
Band A £13 £26 £78
Band B £80 £176 £528

3. Only six other countries in the EU level a similar departure tax, with Germany levying the next highest such tax at around half the UK rate. France levies a number of aviation taxes, which total at around a quarter the UK rate. The Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands, which both have major airports that act as hubs for UK traffic, do not levy any aviation taxes.

4. The Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the trade association that represents UK airports. Its mission is to see UK airports grow sustainably. The AOA represents the views of UK airports to Government, Parliament and regulators to secure policy outcomes that help deliver its mission. It represents more than 50 UK airports in the UK. For more information, please visit

Jane Middleton speech to Airlines UK Annual Dinner 2020

Minister, Baroness Sugg, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2020 Airlines UK Annual Dinner. For those of you I have not yet met I’m Jane Middleton, Chairman of Airlines UK and I would like to start by welcoming you all here this evening and by thanking our event sponsors Thales and Cranfield University.

I would also like to thank our airline members, associate members and especially our 6 Gold members – Thales, Farnborough International, ICF, Gallagher, ICTS and DXC Technology for their continued support of Airlines UK.

I would like to welcome and thank the Minister for Aviation Paul Maynard for joining us as our keynote speaker this evening.

Minister, 2019 was the year environmental issues rose to the top of the political agenda. The previous Government legislated to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and the Committee on Climate Change recommended that such a commitment should include international aviation.

As an industry we now stand at a crossroads. We know that aviation must play its full part in helping the UK deliver a net zero future, and it’s essential we do so to enable our sector to thrive, meet growing passenger and cargo demand whilst maintaining our position as a world-leading aviation industry and the world’s third-largest global aviation network.

Be in no doubt this is understood across all parts of UK aviation and we are determined to play our part in helping the UK achieve net zero emissions.

It is wrong to say you can’t be both for the environment and aviation. The enemy is carbon, not air travel. Industry shares the CCC’s ambition to bring emissions into line with the Paris Agreement and has a long-term plan to achieve this. Already, within the UK, we have decoupled growth in aviation from growth in emissions, thanks largely to the tens of billions invested by airlines in the latest engine technology and airlines are committed to investing even further to achieve their climate goals.

Substantial additional contributions will be made through carbon pricing – via the existing EU ETS and from next year, the UN-led CORSIA programme, which will deliver carbon neutral growth for international aviation up to 2035. Through CORSIA, airlines will pay tens of billions of pounds to fund carbon reduction through high-quality carbon offsets, all the while being incentivised to reduce emissions at source through the effective functioning of the carbon market. CORSIA alone will mitigate around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 and generate over 40 billion dollars for climate projects between 2021 and 2035.

Moreover, airlines want to go further, which is why we’re calling on Ministers to work towards a more robust international commitment at the next ICAO General Assembly, which is consistent with the Paris Agreement. The UK Government has played an outstanding leadership role in these discussions at the UN, and will continue to have our unwavering support.

However, in order to achieve our ambitions, we need a renewed partnership approach with Ministers that provides support and investment in the green technologies of the future.

Minister, sustainable aviation fuels must play an essential role in helping deliver aviation decarbonisation over the next decade. Essentially, these fuels exist today, work in existing gas-turbine engines and with the right policy support could reduce UK aviation emissions by at least 30% up to 2050. Delivering these outcomes requires long-term policy stability and economic support for the scaling-up and rollout of sustainable fuel production capacity.

For £500m pounds of Government investment over 5 years, the UK through matched industry funding could establish a number of commercial plants across the UK, utilising wastes and residues to manufacture sustainable aviation fuels as well as develop a UK centre of excellence. The potential prize is huge: over 5,000 jobs and gross added value of over £700 million pounds and as we know sustainable aviation fuels offer a “bridge” to the game-changing future of electric and hybrid electric powered aircraft. These, in addition, could reduce UK carbon emissions by a further 24% by 2050.

Minister, there are those who say the only way to reduce our emissions is to curb air travel and deter people from wanting to take to the skies. This is a dangerous and ill-informed argument to make. Whether increasing APD or opposing airport expansion, punishing airlines and by extension our passengers is not the answer when in reality we are able to deal with our carbon whilst meeting future demand and allowing people and products to travel sustainably.

In October, Thomas Cook became the second Airlines UK member to cease operations in the space of two years. This was a tragedy for the thousands of employees who lost their jobs and a major headache for passengers. I would like to pay tribute to the Secretary of State, Aviation Minister, DFT personnel, and Richard Moriarty and his team for launching a successful repatriation effort. This demonstrated the effectiveness of Government at its very best.

We must now focus all our energies on ensuring such a mammoth effort is never required again and we support Government in its efforts to change the insolvency laws to ensure a carrier in administration can continue operating to bring people home before shutting up shop, but airlines remain opposed to another levy being imposed on passengers, at what is an increasingly turbulent and challenging period for the sector.

This brings me onto the events of the past few weeks. Minister, Airlines UK welcomes the recent announcement of an APD review ahead of the March budget, working alongside the DFT’s examination of ways to strengthen regional air connectivity. We have always said that the double taxation of domestic flights is an anomaly that damages UK regional aviation and should be addressed at the earliest opportunity.

However, we are very clear that any review must recognise the damaging impact the current levels of APD has on all routes, and not just domestic ones and just how uncompetitive the tax makes the UK as it looks to be open to the world. The review must be comprehensive and carried out across all aspects of the entire tax.

Last year, UK airport connectivity fell by 0.8% – the second consecutive year of decline. We know APD plays a material role in holding back UK connectivity by choking demand and making too many routes expensive to operate from and within the UK, particularly outside the South East. Recent Airlines UK research has shown that UK airports could be losing out on over 60 new direct routes – including 15 long-haul and 31 short-haul connections outside of London – just because of APD.

This situation serves nobody and is why it is so vital that any cut in domestic APD – whilst welcome – must not be paid for simply by increasing the other APD bands.

Minister, in the last Parliament a majority of MPs voted to support a third runway at Heathrow. The Conservative Party manifesto at the recent election, however, put Heathrow on notice that – despite this vote – it expects the airport to put forward a realistic business plan and a scheme proposal that does not hit passengers in the pocket by hiking up landing charges. As airlines we have been consistent that our support for expansion remains conditional upon Heathrow keeping charges at current levels, which was the promise made to MPs before the key vote in Parliament in 2018.

Heathrow will soon launch a public consultation to sign off its proposals following the recent – and welcome – decision by the CAA to place a cap on its early spending, although that cap still allows an incredibly generous £2.2bn to be spent before planning is achieved. The airport must ensure that its overall plan is affordable, operable and deliverable. It is therefore critical that it is developed with, and evidenced to, airlines before submission to the DCO.

In an increasingly tough trading environment for airlines, we need all our suppliers, in particular monopoly providers like Heathrow, to pare down on costs and adopt a mindset of achieving more for less, and we support the CAA’s critical role in protecting airlines and consumers from excessive shareholder returns and poor value for money.

The same principle must apply to NATS. The CAA has referred to the Competition and Markets Authority its national performance plan for ATC in the UK for the period 2020-2024. This follows the CAA’s announcement in September that NATS had rejected the regulator’s determination for this reference period. Airlines strongly support the CAA in their determination to achieve a cost-effective settlement for NATS, and hope it sets a strong precedent in support of lower fares for customers ahead of future rulings, including the CAA’s upcoming determination on Heathrow’s expansion and related costs, which of course will be borne by airlines and their passengers.

Now that the UK is set to leave the European Union, attention will turn to the long-term partnership between the UK and EU. We fully welcome the Department’s support for a standalone air services agreement on aviation, separate to the main trade agreement, and to be negotiated “as soon as possible”. After all, that’s what happens in every other aviation market in the world.  We have been clear that the starting position should be the freedoms of the air already in place and full market access with EU reciprocity – only then can we ensure our industry continues to thrive and provide vital economic connections to the advantage of both UK and EU passengers and cargo customers.

We trust that you share UK carriers’ view that the provisions of the EU’s Basic Connectivity Regulation established in preparation for no-deal, are not an appropriate basis for a future relationship.

Alongside market access arrangements, continued UK participation in the EASA system, with the UK playing an active role and not merely being a dumb follower of EU rules, must also be a major priority. This has been an ask that unlike any other, has united all aspects of the sector, including manufacturers, and we would welcome early certainty that this remains the UK Government’s position and that it will be a strong negotiating priority with the EU. The UK would not be the only non-EU country to participate within EASA and – I’m sure you’ll agree – safety is too important to be a political football.

If this is not going to be the case – and I emphasise the word if – we would support negotiations starting as soon as possible on a Bilateral Air Safety Agreement with the EU, so this can be concluded by the end of December. Crucially, the starting point for this must be the current rule set for commercial aviation, which the CAA played such a key role in putting together.

Airlines UK and our members look forward to continuing our work with Government on these topics and more. Especially as we partner to find ways of supporting the sector on sustainable, carbon neutral operations whilst maintaining our remarkable position as the world’s third largest aviation network.

It now gives me great pleasure to introduce Steve Murray, Vice President of Avionics at Thales UK.

Flybe & Air Passenger Duty Reform

Commenting on the speculation regarding Flybe and the reform of Air Passenger Duty for domestic travel, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said:

“One of the advantages of leaving the EU is the possibility of cutting or removing APD on domestic travel. It’s an anomaly that particularly hurts regional aviation as it’s levied on both legs of a return journey. Irrespective of the Flybe situation we hope the Government will take a closer look at this – and all other elements of our ruinously high and uncompetitive APD – as we need to support our strategically vital regional air connectivity and levying £26 in tax when – in the case of Flybe – the average fare is £52 – is not sustainable when so many other costs on airlines are increasing.

“APD is not and never has been an environmental tax. It has no bearing on the ability of the aviation industry to decarbonise and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This will be achieved via a range of other measures, including airspace modernisation, the development of sustainable aviation fuels, new, cleaner planes, and the UN carbon offsetting scheme CORSIA, which captures growth in all emissions from international aviation and will mitigate around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035.”

2Excel joins industry association Airlines UK

2Excel, an aviation services business founded by two Royal Air Force pilots, has become the latest airline to join Airlines UK, the association that represents UK-registered carriers.

Founded in 2005, 2Excel has grown from five people and four aerobatic aircraft to over 400 people and a fleet of 30. In 2018, 2Excel Aviation became 51 per cent employee owned through the creation of an Employee Ownership Trust.

With an annual turnover of more than £45m, the rapid growth of the company’s business lines and capabilities has enabled 2Excel to become an emerging force in the market. Everything is underpinned by the airline, which holds a global Air Operators Certificate.

With bases at Sywell Aerodrome, Stansted Airport, Doncaster-Sheffield Airport and Lasham Airfield, 2Excel’s customers include Government Departments, the defence and oil industries, airlines and airline brokers.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK said: “We are delighted to welcome such a British success story into the membership. 2Excel is an emerging force on the market with a fascinating and truly unique business model. We look forward to working with them”.

George Offer, Director of 2Excel Aviation’s Charter division Broadsword, said: “Airlines UK plays an important role in representing the interests of carriers based and operating from this country and we are delighted to be signed up as members. Aviation plays an important part in UK plc and is a key driver of economic growth and prosperity. We at 2Excel are proud to play our role in creating exciting, high-value jobs in the sector across our four sites.

 “We can lay claim to be the world’s only aerobatic airline – thanks to our heritage as The Blades display team. Today we also offer bespoke travel of unparalleled quality aboard our fleet of luxurious Boeing 737 and Beech King Air aircraft, with the flexibility to meet passengers’ unique schedules being a point of pride for our business.”

Airlines UK – Manifesto Policy Asks

Airlines UK – the industry association representing UK carriers – has set out a number of manifesto ‘asks’ ahead of the General Election on 12 December, highlighting the action needed in the next Parliament to create a framework that will encourage UK airlines to compete, grow and deliver even more for the UK in the years ahead.

Support to deliver ‘net zero carbon’ aviation, grow our connectivity, deliver new capacity and support air cargo are at the top of our list of priorities.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: “If UK aviation is serious about growing to meet future passenger and freight demand, the next few years will be about demonstrating we can do this whilst delivering on carbon reduction. Airlines are clear that provided it is done through an international framework, net zero carbon is within reach for UK aviation by 2050.

“But we cannot do this alone. Airlines are investing billions in the cleanest, greenest planes, but we need a renewed partnership between Government and industry to deliver the technologies that will get us to net zero, including airspace modernisation, sustainable aviation fuels and – further into the future – electric or hybrid electric engines.

“Provided we deliver on this agenda we will earn the right to grow – but this growth cannot be taken for granted either without the right policy framework in place. So airlines will work with Government to support an expanded Heathrow but are clear this will not deliver for consumers if charges have to increase to pay for it. We will utilise capacity at other UK airports provided we have a fairer APD regime and better surface access connections that can widen catchment areas. And we will continue to support our world-class freight sector provided the right infrastructure is in place and no further restrictions are put in place on early morning arrivals.

“UK aviation is at a crossroads. If we get things right over the next few years we can look forward to continued success as an enabler of economic growth and prosperity. Carriers look forward to playing their full part in this endeavor.”

UK airlines call for renewed partnership with Government to fund new clean aviation technology and sustainable fuels

UK airlines invest in cleaner aircraft and carbon reduction –
call for a renewed partnership with Government to fund new clean aviation technology and sustainable fuels

As part of the Airlines2050 conference taking place in London today, UK airlines have renewed their calls for a renewed partnership with Government to support the aviation industry in its efforts to decarbonise by investing in the green aviation technologies of the future.

Aviation is a major UK success story and connects Britain to the world, keeping families together, helping businesses thrive and increase trade. UK airlines are showing that they can deliver all these benefits sustainably.

Parliament has legislated to cut greenhouse gas emissions for the UK economy to net zero by 2050 and Airlines UK – the industry body – believes that through an international approach, with the right Government support, and together with substantial investment from industry, this is within reach for UK aviation by 2050.

Airlines are already implementing carbon reduction measures, with new initiatives and investments designed to speed up progress, but support from Government will be crucial:

  • Cleaner, quieter aircraft – Airlines UK members have spent billions on new aircraft, that are up to 25% more carbon efficient than those they replace.
  • Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) –SAFs can cut carbon emissions by at least 30% by 2050, and generate thousands of new jobs in UK fuel plants. British Airways is investing $400m in such a sustainable jet fuel plant in Humberside. Airlines are calling on UK Government to provide financial support to extend, upscale, reduce costs of development and commercialise SAF.
  • Carbon Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) – From next year CORSIA, the first worldwide agreement signed by the United Nations in 2016, will make growth in international flights carbon neutral by paying to mitigate around 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 and generate over $40 billion for climate projects between 2021 and 2035. The UN aims to set an even more ambitious goal beyond 2035. UK Government should continue its excellent leadership role in these discussions at the UN.
  • Airspace modernisation – Bringing UK airspace into the 21st century with satellite-based navigation and direct routes can cut carbon emissions by 9 to 14%. Government should work with industry and the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure plans are delivered on time.
  • Investment in R&D – Investment in new aircraft and engine technology will be critical for delivering future hybrid-electric short-haul aircraft from 2035, and to the deployment of fully electric aircraft in the longer-term. Government should support further R&D.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: “Airlines are doing everything they can to demonstrate their commitment to decarbonisation – and are making real progress, investing in hundreds of new aircraft which are up to 25% more efficient than those they replace.

“Through a renewed partnership between Government and industry, the UK is uniquely placed to capitalise on the opportunities of green aviation technology, whether that’s more efficient engines or hybrid electric aircraft. However, these remain some years off which is why support for sustainable aviation fuels and airspace modernisation in the here and now remains so vital.  

“Aviation is of course an international sector and in addition to our own efforts, Governments across the globe must continue to support the UN offsetting scheme that will capture any growth in aviation from next year, and continue to work on developing a long-term target through to 2050 that crucially is consistent with limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.”

Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “The fight against climate change is the greatest and most pressing challenge facing the modern world and aviation has a crucial role to play in tackling it. This commitment by the aviation industry is very welcome and absolutely vital if we are to reduce carbon emissions.

“The government has recently invested £2bn in aerospace research and development and sustainable fuels, and is continuing to look for opportunities to support the creation of greener, cleaner transport.”

Contact: Tim Alderslade – [email protected] / 0758 4016925

  • Airlines UK is the trade body for UK-registered airlines and other carriers with a UK operation – with members representing all sectors of the industry. Our thirteen members are: British Airways, CargoLogicAir, DHL, easyJet, Flybe,, Jota Aviation, Norwegian UK, Ryanair, Tui Airways, Titan Airways, Virgin Atlantic and West Atlantic.

Background (notes to editors):

  • The ATI Programme supports mid stage R&D projects that deliver the UK’s Aerospace Technology Strategy, while boosting technology spend in the sector and securing manufacturing jobs around the UK. Funding is focused on key technologies to make aircraft quieter, more environmentally friendly and cheaper to manufacture and operate. The Government is investing £1.95 billion in aerospace R&D from 2013 to 2026, which is matched by industry bringing total R&D investment to £3.9 billion
  • Delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the ICSF is a key part of the government’s Industrial Strategy that focuses on the four grand challenge areas (Future of mobility, Clean growth, AI and Data, Ageing society). ISCF investment includes the Future Flight Challenge a £300m programme (including £125m of Government funding) to demonstrate novel aviation systems unlocked by electric and autonomous technologies.
  • Aviation fuel is now eligible for support under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, and the Government is providing £22m to support the development of advanced low carbon fuels through the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight competition, which also requires matched funding from the private sector.
  • The Government has also committed to setting a clear ambition for the aviation sector and we will publish our position on aviation and climate change for consultation shortly.

Jota Aviation joins Airlines UK

Jota Aviation, a UK charter and cargo airline based out of London Southend Airport, have become the latest airline to join Airlines UK, the association that represents UK-registered carriers.

Jota Aviation are a specialist niche airline based at Southend, and under their UK AOC approval they operate a fleet of passenger and cargo BAe146 & Avro RJ aircraft available on ACMI or charter basis. They have a 24/7 flight operations department meaning they can provide rapid response aircraft services to customers on an ad-hoc or contract basis. The airline can be airborne in around 60 minutes from confirmation serving the time-critical cargo market.

Andy Green, CEO of Jota Aviation, said: “Airlines UK is a valuable alliance for the UK airline industry, providing a forum for airlines to work together towards a common goal. There are many challenges facing the industry and the collaborative approach that Airlines UK takes is useful, if not essential, given the very changing landscape that UK airlines find themselves in within the current market. We have already taken part in some very useful working groups, which have focused on the unique set of circumstances for all UK-based airlines and it has been a huge benefit for us to understand these issues in detail and to address the challenges ahead in collaboration.”

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said: “We’re pleased to be welcoming another non-scheduled UK airline into the membership. Jota are a fascinating company and a real British success story, and they will play a big part in strengthening our voice and common messaging on cargo and charter issues. We look forward to working with them.”

Sustainable Aviation response to Committee on Climate Change letter on international aviation and net zero

Responding to the publication of a formal letter from the Committee on Climate Change, to the Department for Transport, setting out its view on how international aviation should play its part in achieving a net zero carbon future, Neil Robinson, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, said:

“Climate change is a clear and pressing issue for people, businesses and governments across the world, and we welcome the leadership shown by Ministers in legislating for the UK to be net zero by 2050. We believe that through an international approach, with the right Government support, and together with substantial investment from industry, net zero is within reach for UK aviation if we all play our part.

“Building on the work we’ve already done, we should continue to develop new technologies, including working with fuel producers to develop sustainable aviation fuels and the successful introduction of global offsetting schemes through which airlines will pay for any extra emissions they create. By investing tens of billions of pounds in new, cleaner aircraft we have already decoupled growth in aviation from growth in emissions, and as a global industry we have a long established plan to halve our emissions by 2050.

“Carbon reduction, however, is a global issue requiring a global response, with governments and industry working closely together, and for emissions to be managed within an international framework.

“If the UK climate ambition is not matched elsewhere, the global market would be distorted with carbon emissions simply exported to other countries, which would be bad for the environment and bad for British travellers. We are therefore urging Ministers to continue leading through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to agree a meaningful global emissions reduction target for aviation, consistent with the requirements of the Paris Agreement.”

Our response to the announcement that Thomas Cook have ceased trading

Responding to the announcement that Thomas Cook have ceased trading Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry association that represents UK-registered carriers and which counted Thomas Cook as a member, said:

“Today is an incredibly sad day for the UK airline and travel industry. Thomas Cook has been one of our most recognisable brands for over a hundred years and has served and represented our sector with distinction.

“Our thoughts go out to the thousands of Thomas Cook staff who through no fault of their own face an uncertain future, and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who are currently abroad or were looking forward to taking a holiday with the company.

The CAA and Department for Transport will ensure they are brought home in as speedy and professional way as possible, and other Airlines UK members will also be heavily assisting with the repatriation effort, and we thank them for their efforts over the coming days overseeing what will be an incredibly complex operation.”