New “Future of Aviation Group” set up – Chair Henry Smith MP – “to fight for the future of UK aviation”

The aviation sector has fared very badly (as have so many others) in the Covid pandemic lockdown. People have not been able to travel, for the genuine reason that the number of infections needs to be reduced, to keep people safe from a disease that can make some people very ill indeed. The sector wants preferential treatment by government, to help it out. It always tries to make out that it is vital to the economy (in reality, must of the aviation industry sucks British money abroad, as Brits spend on their foreign trips and holidays). Now MP for Crawley, Henry Smith, has set up a new industry lobby group, calling itself the Future of Aviation Group.  He has written, with 3 other MPs, to Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, asking for clarity about how the recovery of the sector can be supported by government. They want clarity from government on many issues including quarantine arrangements for all passengers arriving in the UK; clarity on the Covid health measures airlines should agree internationally; consideration of business rates relief; and support for domestic air routes.


The Future of Aviation Group

28th May 2020  from the Air League
The Air League News

The Air League welcomes the launch of the Future of Aviation Group, a new cross-party group of MPs to fight for the future of UK aviation after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Chaired by Henry Smith MP and in partnership with the Airport Operators Association, Airlines UK, IATA and other industry figures, the Group will seek to highlight the importance of a vibrant aviation sector to consumers, businesses and the overall UK economy.The Group is urging ministers to introduce measures to support the recovery of the UK’s aviation sector and echo’s the Air League’s call earlier this week for the Government and MPs to spearhead a national awareness campaign to show that the UK is open for business through aviationHenry Smith, Chair of the Group said;

“It is of course right that public health concerns remain the Government’s most urgent priority, but the level of support from MPs from all sides and from all regions reflects the pressing need for the Government to provide much more support to our aviation sector, given that aviation is one of the sectors worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Aviation will be vital to our long-term economic recovery at national and local levels and it is high time that Government avoid any further delay and introduce financial measures that support the aviation industry; the businesses, employees and the communities who depend on it.

“We cannot allow Britain’s economic and social recovery to be held back through a failure to support our aviation industry. As a global, island trading nation the consequences of continuing inaction are unthinkable.”

The Group has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, (28th May – signed by just 4 MPs …)  setting out several urgent questions about the Government’s actions to date together with demands for further urgent policy intervention.
The letter to the Secretary of State raises several points, including:*
How often will the 14-day quarantine period be reviewed, and will Government prioritise ‘air bridges’ to restart safe travel to and from low risk countries?
* What discussions have been held at an international level to find a Common International Standard for aviation health protocols to build consumer confidence?
* What discussions have been held with local authorities and airport representatives regarding central Government support for business rates relief?
* What consideration has been given to financial measures to support the restart of domestic aviation and to protect vital regional routes?
* What additional support can be made available to local authorities and the aviation supply chain until passenger numbers increase?
* What assessment has been made of the importance of aviation to the nation’s economic recovery?
* What assessment has been made of the likely timescale of the recovery of businesses in the tourism sector who are reliant on international tourism?
* What assessment has been made of the opportunity to support low carbon aviation technologies as a way to support UK economic recovery and help aviation deliver its net zero commitment?


The letter is on Henry Smith MP’s website at
Henry Smith’s website continues: 

The creation of the Future of Aviation Group is Henry’s latest intervention on this issue.

Henry added;

“With Gatwick Airport being such a key local employer I’m very conscious of the Crawley economy being reliant on the aviation and travel industry.

“I’ll continue my representations with ministers, airports and airlines on behalf of the Crawley workers, families, businesses and customers for whom this sector is so important.”

Please click the link below to read the letter.

Notes to Editors:

The Future of Aviation Group has been formed by Henry Smith MP in partnership with the Airport Operators Association, Airlines UK, IATA and other industry figures. All MPs have been invited to join, as will representatives from Local Government and local and national business groups.

The Group will be run by a steering committee consisting of its Chair and Vice Chairs.


The letter is signed by just 4 people.
The 4 MPs signing it are:
Henry Smith
Member of Parliament for Crawley. Chair, Future of Aviation Group
Christine Jardine
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West.  Vice Chair, Future of Aviation Group
Catherine McKinnell
Member of Parliament for Newcastle North.   Vice Chair, Future of Aviation Group
Gavin Robinson
Member of Parliament for Belfast East.   Vice Chair, Future of Aviation Group

It is unclear where the BBC article got the number of 40 MPs from (some earlier bit of lobbying perhaps. BBC story at )

The Air League has a rather empty-of-content, but high on lobbying intention, website at


MPs call for urgent action to save aviation jobs

28.5.2020  (BBC)

Urgent government action is needed to safeguard jobs in the aviation industry and ensure its survival, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

The newly formed Future of Aviation Group issued the call in a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

[The letter is at ]

The group of 40 MPs complained of “the lack of progress” in providing wider support for the industry. [The letter is signed by Henry Smith and 3 others. Not 40 MPs]

And they asked how often the government would review its planned quarantine for new arrivals.

From 8 June, people entering the UK from abroad will be told to isolate for 14 days or face a £1,000 fine.

The quarantine plan has already attracted fierce criticism from the travel industry, with more than 70 travel bosses denouncing it in a separate letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“The very last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine imposed on all arriving passengers which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad, and most likely cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors,” the travel firms’ letter says.

Airlines have been announcing job losses and restructuring programmes as they fight to stay in business. The latest is EasyJet, which said on Thursday that it planned to cut up to 30% of its workforce – about 4,500 jobs.

“The wider aviation family makes a significant economic and social contribution to the UK and will be central to our long-term economic recovery,” the MPs wrote to Mr Shapps.

“We are therefore concerned at the lack of progress being made in providing wider support for the industry and in the development of a long-term roadmap that will enable the sector to recover as quickly as possible and play its vital role in our national overall economic recovery.”

The MPs  [ all 4 of them ] called on the government to prioritise “air bridges” to restart safe travel to and from low-risk countries.

“We need urgent action now to safeguard jobs,” they added. “The consequences of inaction in this vital area are simply unthinkable.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.

“We continue to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world. However, it is right that we introduce these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”

The travel firms say the sector contributed £200bn to the UK economy last year, around 9% of gross domestic product. [Unclear how that figure is worked out – probably direct jobs, indirect jobs, induced jobs, uncle Tom Cobbley and all. The tourism deficit due to foreign travel abroad by British people in 2019 was £33.9 billion, by ONS figures.  See link.  AW note.]

But they say the government has been “woefully slow to react and has procrastinated to the point of absurdity” when considering support schemes for the industry during the crisis.

The letter says the government “must not exceed its mandate”.

“The people of this country do not wish to be prevented from travelling.”

“Quite simply, it is time to switch the emphasis from protection to economic recovery before it is too late.”