UK aviation lacks clear, consistent, integrated government leadership

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The UK's roadmap out of lockdown has targeted 17-May-2021 for the return of international travel. However, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) warns that delaying it until then will cost the UK economy nearly GBP27 billion. Even that date is subject to a government task force on travel.

Meanwhile, the UK's 3-Mar-2021 Budget statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the UK finance minister) did nothing for aviation.

Earlier this year, limited sector-specific support to airports and ground handlers in England was made available, offering up to GBP8 million each, but six northern airports have called for more. Cardiff Airport is to receive more substantial support from the Welsh Government, its sole shareholder, but this is the exception that proves the rule.

The UK's continued waiver of airport slot rules into summer 2021 remains the only sector-specific support to UK airlines. Compounding the challenges facing airlines in generating revenue, UK charter operators are protesting post-Brexit rules that make it harder for them to compete for charter revenues. A mooted domestic APD reduction in 2022, if it happens, will be too late for some.

UK aviation needs clarity, consistency, and an integrated approach if it is to resume its place as Europe's biggest aviation market.

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