DfT publishes Aviation Strategy, with focus on growth and helping passengers – little on environmental impacts

The government has published its Aviation Strategy, which the DfT says “will set out the longterm direction for aviation policy to 2050 and beyond.” The first phase of its development was the publication of a call for evidence in July 2017. The Aviation Strategy says it will now “pursue 6 objectives, which are unchanged following the consultation.” It is very much focused on the passenger, the passenger experience, helping the aviation industry, expanding aviation and “building a global and connected Britain.”  The Strategy “sets out further detail on the challenges associated with these objectives and some of the action that the government is considering and which will form part of further consultation later in the year.” The DfT says:  “The government will continue the dialogue that has already begun on these issues. The next step will be the publication of detailed policy proposals in a green paper in the autumn of 2018. This will be followed by the final Aviation Strategy document in early 2019.” There is mention of the environmental problems (carbon, noise, air pollution) but they are given scant attention, and it is presumed they can all be reduced – even while the sector has huge growth.  A 3rd runway at Heathrow is assumed to happen.

DfT says: “Government puts consumers at heart of the aviation industry”

  • greater focus on passengers, to improve their experience throughout their journey
  • creating an ever cleaner, greener sector which prioritises sustainable growth
  • building a global and connected Britain with more trade opportunities

The government will today (7 April 2018) set out its plans to make the country’s aviation sector world-leading in prioritising passengers, fostering sustainable growth and promoting trade.

The aviation strategy next steps document outlines proposals which will build on the aviation industry’s work to improve the flying experience for passengers at every stage of their journey.  Read it here 

This will include new measures to help passengers make a more informed choice about their flight including providing more transparency on additional costs.

The document also outlines how the government will work with industry to ensure all passengers have a dignified and comfortable travelling experience, including ways to improve accessibility at airports and on aircraft and tackling the issue of disruptive passengers.

Work will be carried out to improve the compensation scheme for consumers, ensuring passengers are properly informed about their rights to claim when things go wrong and exploring greater powers to enforce regulations.

Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said:

Our world class aviation industry has a proud and accomplished history, from pioneering the first international routes to championing consumer choice.

Working with industry, we want to improve the flying experience from booking to arrival, ensuring passengers are truly at the heart of the aviation sector.

This demonstrates our commitment to creating a transport system which works for passengers as we build a Britain fit for the future.

The government is also providing more details about its ambitious plan to make Britain’s aviation sector the world’s greenest, including proposals to tackle issues around noise, greenhouse gas emissions and airspace congestion.

Environmental proposals include the introduction of new noise targets, strengthened noise controls at airports and improved compensation for people living near airports. The government will work with industry to reduce the usage of single use plastics and improve recycling rates.

The government will also explore measures with industry to support the use of quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft, as well as the emergence of electric and hybrid technology.

The ‘next steps’ document makes clear the government’s commitment to ensuring the aviation sector continues to grow.

The sector already contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy each year and the strategy will examine what can be done to help it develop even further.

The strategy will examine the agreements UK has with other countries to operate flights, identify opportunities to improve connectivity and open up new routes for overseas investment.

Other proposals include reviewing the allocation of airport landing slots to ensure the process is fair, transparent and fosters a competitive marketplace which benefits consumers by offering more choice.

An initial call for evidence for the aviation strategy was launched in July of last year, receiving almost 380 responses. The proposals being outlined in the ‘next steps’ document will be consulted on further in the autumn, with the final strategy due for publication in early 2019.


The aviation strategy is designed to achieve a safe, secure and sustainable aviation sector that meets the needs of consumers and of a global, outward-looking Britain. It will look to:

  • help the aviation industry work for its customers
  • ensure a safe and secure way to travel
  • build a global and connected Britain
  • encourage competitive markets
  • support growth while tackling environmental impacts
  • develop innovation, technology and skill




Beyond the horizon
The future of UK aviation
Next steps towards an Aviation Strategy

April 2018


The section on carbon is on Pages 60 – 63.

The section on noise is on Pages 63 – 67

On biofuels, it says Page 63:

“6.22  Sustainable alternative aviation fuels are widely seen as essential to the long term sustainability of the aviation sector. The government has legislated to extend eligibility of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation to aviation fuels and through the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition government has made £22 million of matched capital funding available to support the production of low carbon fuels for aviation and Heavy Goods Vehicles. Through the Aviation Strategy the government will consider policies it can put in place to further assist the long term uptake of sustainable alternative fuels in this sector which is particularly difficult to decarbonise.”

A part of its section on carbon states: 

“6.14  In Europe, aviation has been included in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) since 2012. As set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, the government is considering the UK’s future participation in the EU ETS after our exit from the EU. Whatever our future relationship with the EU, the government will seek to ensure that our approach is at least as ambitious as the existing scheme and provides a smooth transition for the relevant sectors.

“6.15  It has long been the government’s position that international aviation emissions are best tackled at the international level. This reflects the inherently global nature of both the aviation industry and the challenge of climate change. Airline schedules are designed so that an aircraft may fly between any number of states in any given day and be registered to an operator in a different state altogether. Assigning portions of the aircraft’s emissions to different states is problematic, particularly in the absence of an agreed international methodology.

“6.16  Stronger action at the UK level without an equivalent level of action internationally is likely to impose greater costs on airlines flying to and from the UK, thereby putting UK airlines at a greater competitive disadvantage compared to foreign airlines and potentially increasing fares. Passengers may, as a result, choose to travel through other airport hubs which would simply move the emissions elsewhere rather than reducing them (known as carbon ‘leakage’).

“6.17  In addition to the government’s emphasis on international action, it has always been willing to consider all cost effective measures to ensure that the sector continues to contribute to the UK’s emissions reduction obligations, including under the Climate Change Act and Paris Agreement.”

DfT’s webpage on its Aviation Strategy


Beyond the horizon: the future of aviation in the UK

The next steps towards a new aviation strategy

The aviation industry is a British success story; rooted in a deep heritage of being at the forefront of global aviation.

To build on this success we are developing a new strategy to support industry in delivering even greater improvements for passengers, the environment and our country.

Between July and October 2017 we asked for views on how we should consult to develop this new strategy as well as what issues we should cover.

We have now published a ‘next steps’ document, which identifies the challenges for aviation in the years to come and discusses how we can respond to them.

It also sets out how we will engage with industry throughout 2018. This will result in a final aviation strategy by early 2019.

Read the ‘aviation strategy next steps’

Our 6 objectives for a new aviation strategy

Aviation matters – it drives economic growth across the whole United Kingdom, connects us with the world, removes barriers to trade and supports jobs and skills. We have an aviation history to be proud of and we’re building on a track record of success.

But we also recognise the challenges that our aviation sector faces in maintaining this leading position. So the time is now right to develop a new aviation strategy that will set out the long-term vision for aviation taking us to 2050 and beyond.

These are our 6 objectives for a new aviation strategy.

Help the aviation industry work for its customers
Enhancing the consumer experience through improved accessibility, better information and support when things go wrong.

Ensure a safe and secure way to travel

Championing the UK’s aviation security and safety record and ensuring our approaches remain cutting edge and responsive to new challenges.

Build a global and connected Britain

The importance of aviation to building a global Britain that is outward looking, with a strong economy that benefits the whole of the UK.

Encourage competitive markets

Examining the sector to see whether market failures exist and how government can encourage more competition.

Support growth while tackling environmental impacts

Building capacity and promoting regional growth and connectivity whilst balancing this with the need to tackle environmental impacts.

Develop innovation, technology and skills

How we can make best use of new technology and build on the aviation sector’s track record of success in encouraging innovation.



Download the full outcome

Beyond the horizon – the future of UK aviation: next steps towards an aviation strategy

Detail of outcome

The aim of the new aviation strategy is to achieve a safe, secure and sustainable aviation sector that meets the needs of consumers and of a global, outward-looking Britain.

We sought views on the aviation strategy from industry, business, consumers, environmental groups and anyone with an interest in aviation.

The next steps document outlines our 6 key objectives for the strategy, challenges ahead and actions the government is considering to address these.

We will hold a consultation on the policy detail for all 6 of the strategy objectives later this year, leading to the publication of a final aviation strategy in 2019.

Original consultation


Seeks views on the proposed approach for developing a new aviation strategy for the UK.

This consultation ran from

Consultation description

This call for evidence is the first stage of developing a new aviation strategyfor the UK.

This document sets out our overall aims and approach and seeks views on:

  • our proposed approach
  • the issues that we would like to explore through the development of the strategy

We want to be guided by you. This is your opportunity to shape the future of aviation.

An updated version of this document was published on 9 August 2017 correcting a typographical error in figure 12 on page 43.