Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said aviation will remain a critical part of the UK economy after Brexit and has also announced the appointment of Peter Bucks as chair of the independent insolvency review set up after the collapse of Monarch Airlines.
Speaking at the annual dinner held by trade body Airlines UK, Grayling called on attendees to give the Department for Transport feedback on the measures it is proposing for an aviation strategy.
“We want a strategy that will support growth across the country while tackling aviation’s environmental effects,” he said, adding that the plans will be “a blueprint for the sustainable growth of aviation over the next 30 years and beyond”.
Grayling said he wants to focus on how to make the best use of existing capacity while creating new opportunities for growth, as well as improving access to airports, modernising airspace to reduce flight delays and noise, and prioritising passengers. He commented that there will be three more consultation phases before the strategy is fully developed.
Turning his attention to Brexit, Grayling said that “securing a good deal for UK airlines, with the best possible access to European markets, remains one of my biggest Brexit objectives”. He maintained confidence in the government’s ability to strike a good deal for airports and airlines, citing the knowledge that such a deal is in the best interests of both parties.
Moving on to the collapse of Monarch, Grayling thanked the airlines and airports that helped the government in its repatriation effort. He also announced that regulatory and finance expert Peter Bucks will chair the review into airline insolvency.
Bucks, an independent non-executive director at Market Operator Services Limited, will carry out a review to set out options for “a new framework to deal with the failure of airlines and travel companies so that airlines can be wound down in an orderly fashion, and passengers repatriated or refunded with minimal or no government intervention”, according to Grayling.
Grayling also touched on expansion at Heathrow, saying a Parliamentary vote is still planned for the first half of this year. He said the airport is still under instruction to ensure the cost of building a new runway does not get passed on to passengers in the form of increased charges.
He called on “the whole industry” to support the new runway, saying it provides “the greatest benefits soonest”.
Read the full speech here.