The Department for Transport (DfT) has opened a consultation on its aviation strategy green paper, which will set out the government’s policy on flights through 2050.
The green paper, called Aviation 2050, focuses on growing capacity in the UK to meet rising passenger demand, but promises to balance this with action to reduce environmental and community impacts. Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said a particular challenge here was tackling carbon emissions, air quality and noise.
Another focus will be on improving the passenger experience, including through technology and innovation, a new passenger charter announced earlier this month and action to reduce delays at the border.
A particular worry for the travel industry is the impact of Brexit on passport queues at airports. This summer saw some of the longest waiting times at major hubs such as Heathrow, with Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger and British Airways boss Alex Cruz calling on the Home Office to add more staff to passport control at busy times.
The government is also seeking to work with airlines and airports to establish new routes to global destinations to ensure the UK can compete in a post-Brexit world.
More importantly for companies outside of London and the Southeast, the paper lays out the government’s commitment to supporting regional growth and connectivity by promoting training and employment opportunities, as well as working with airlines and airports to deliver more flights to both domestic and international destinations.
The green paper has been welcomed by the industry, with Manchester Airports Group (MAG) saying: “The UK’s aviation sector underpins this government’s aspirations for a global Britain. As it sets out proposals for a new aviation strategy, it is vital that government focuses on how it can enable growth in both the short and long term. Airports like Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands are strategic national assets, connecting people and goods to the world. As MAG invests more than £1.5 billion in our airports over the next five years, we want to work with government to improve road and rail infrastructure around our airports to maximise the benefits of direct connectivity right across the country.”
Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), commented: “The UK has benefitted from a highly competitive aviation sector that pays its own way, but airlines have been facing increasing infrastructure, taxation and regulatory challenges that are holding the sector back. This new aviation strategy marks the first fully integrated industrial strategy for the aviation sector and is a vital step to unlocking the full potential of aviation for consumers and the economy. We look forward to engaging with the government to sense check their strategic proposals and to work together on the ambitious implementation schedule needed to achieve the industry’s and the government’s aims.”
The consultation is open until 2345 on 11 April 2019, with a final white paper version of the aviation strategy due to be published by the middle of the year.
View the full green paper here