Update from Tim Alderslade, CEO Airlines UK

Airlines UK is the trade body for UK registered airlines, with members representing all sectors of the industry.  Working with governments, regulators and legislators they promote the interests of UK airlines to encourage long-term and sustainable growth in aviation.  They help to formulate opinions and engage with stakeholders on a number of issues, including airport capacity, taxation, sustainable aviation, disruptive passengers and regulation and consumer protection. 

Many of you will know Club Member Tim Alderslade, CEO Airlines UK, who frequently attends Club events.  Tim has sent the following review for fellow Club members.  We very much appreciate this personal insight and look forward to seeing him and his team at Club events again soon.  

“Halfway through the year, June would typically represent the start of the all-important summer season for our airlines with families setting off on their holidays and students planning out their travel plans between terms. The reality, however, with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, is footfall at UK airports is down to 97% of normal passenger levels, airlines have been forced to ground operations and we’ve witnessed the temporary closure of a major London airport.
We are under no illusion about the impact of the crisis, and the unprecedented challenges it has meant for the industry. It is by far and away the worst disaster to impact UK aviation in our long history. Despite this, we also have so many reasons to be proud of the response and the actions industry has taken. From upscaling freight capabilities for delivering vital PPE equipment from around the world, repatriating hundreds of thousands of British nationals, and airline staff volunteering to support NHS workers at Nightingale hospitals across the country. This truly has been a time for pride in our sector.
Amidst these successes, our biggest challenge to recovery, however, remains the need to move beyond the current travel and border restrictions as well as quarantine as soon and safely as possible. Here we have already seen industry and Government coming together to produce some incredible work on aviation health guidance at breakneck speed, demonstrating what can be possible through collaboration. This will help to give passengers the reassurance they need that air travel remains safe.  
It is continued partnership with Government on aviation’s restart & recovery which will be key to ensuring airlines can return back to operations in the most sustainable way possible. As air bridges are introduced on 6 July – following a determined campaign by the whole sector that the economically ruinous quarantine policy should be removed – there does need to be recognition that the recovery of operations will take time, which is why we are asking for support measures including a 12-month suspension of APD, as other European countries have done.
Passengers from the UK, be they holidaymakers to Spain or those on business trips to China, pay by far the highest aviation tax in Europe – twice that of Germany.  For a family travelling long-haul, this can add hundreds of pounds to the cost of the ticket.

An emergency suspension of the tax for 12 months – alongside a clear signal of support for the ending of the double taxation for UK domestic travel – would be a game changer, boosting demand, allowing airlines to maintain and build back connectivity, and protecting jobs in the process. With the skies so empty, the cost to the Treasury would also be hugely minimised. Countries like Norway, recognising the danger, have already acted in this way.   

As connectivity picks up and airlines restart operations, our focus will once again return to priority themes including sustainability. Indeed, it was only in February this year that our industry came together as airlines, airports and manufacturers to make a commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – the only such industry commitment from any country in the world and one that – even with Covid – we continue to fully support. Despite these challenging times we have already seen positive announcements even this past month on green recovery ambitions with the planning approval of the UK’s only sustainable jet fuel plant in Immingham. This joint project between Veloycs, Shell & British Airways will see household and commercial waste converted into jet fuel – an announcement that represents the potential for the UK to lead worldwide on this technology.
To summarise, it is no mistake to say the impact of the Covid crisis will, in the long term, be the most important and deep rooted the industry has faced. That said, the sector has demonstrated a remarkable record of bouncing back in the face of adversity – whether following the 2008 economic crisis or the fallout from 9/11 – and I have no doubt this this will also be the case now. We have much to be positive about, whether in the ground made on sustainability ambitions or the clear demonstration of resilience the sector has shown.
With strong ambition and leadership from Government, I am certain that UK industry can continue to celebrate its position as one of the largest and most successful aviation markets in the world.”