The Government must “bring pace to the policies” after publishing a long-awaited strategy to support the recovery of aviation from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Heathrow Airport.
A 10-point plan named Flightpath to the Future has been released by the Department for Transport, focusing on growth, sustainability and protecting passengers.
It commits to “position the UK as a global aviation leader” and put the sector “on course to achieve Jet Zero”, which refers to the project to reach net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.
The pandemic posed an existential threat to the aviation sectorAviation minister Robert Courts
A new aviation council will be created to deliver the aims.
It will be made up of representatives from airlines, airports and elsewhere in the sector, as well as ministers and officials from the UK Government and devolved administrations.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said it is “vital” that the UK’s aviation sector is rebuilt “on a sustainable trajectory”.
She went on: “The necessary changes that will decarbonise and futureproof the benefits of flying can only be achieved when we all work together.
“We look forward to this opportunity through the new aviation council.
“Flightpath to the Future is the first step. Now we need Government to bring pace to the policies that will allow the sector to fulfil the ambitions they are setting out today.
“Failure to do this, will only see this plan grounded.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: “There can be no ‘Global Britain’ without the air connectivity that UK airlines deliver.
“We look forward to a laser-like focus from Government on the levers it can pull to make the UK a truly competitive, global aviation hub.”
The strategy sets out that the Government will “unlock local benefits” and support increases to airport capacity “where justified”.
It also states that an aviation passenger charter will be published later this year as a “one-stop guide” for consumers to know their rights when flying.
Passenger numbers at UK airports last year were 78% below pre-pandemic levels, as the country lagged behind European rivals due to tougher coronavirus restrictions.
A recent report by trade body the Airports Operators Association (AOA) stated that UK airports have lost £10 billion in revenue since the first lockdown in March 2020 and have taken on more than £4 billion in debt.
Demand for UK flights has risen this year, coinciding with the scrapping of all travel rules.
AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: “It is vital that the Government not only provide policy certainty to achieve a UK-wide recovery but also back their ambitions with funding.
“UK airports come out of the pandemic in a worse financial position than many of their international competitors, who received significantly more generous funds from their governments to weather the pandemic.”
Aviation minister Robert Courts said: “The pandemic posed an existential threat to the aviation sector.
“Now recovery has started, we have a chance to build back better than ever before.
“Through this new strategy, I’m setting out 10 priorities to ensure we build an industry that’s not only fit for the future, but one that’s world-leading.
“By working closely with the sector to focus on sustainable growth, powered by the latest innovations, we can ensure aviation creates jobs and opportunities across all four nations of the UK.”