Future of Aviation

In May 2020 I launched the Future of Aviation Group to campaign for Britain’s aviation sector following the Covid-19 pandemic’s negative impact. In October 2020 the Group was officially registered with Parliament as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation. The APPG’s web site is: www.futureofaviationgroup.org.uk

We have a proven record of effectively campaigning on behalf of aviation workers, businesses and customers.

With Gatwick Airport in the Crawley constituency I continued to support the sector throughout my time as a Member of Parliament, and before when I served as Leader of West Sussex County Council. The Group seeks to highlight the importance of a vibrant and sustainable aviation sector to consumers, businesses and the overall UK economy. The Group lobbies Government to introduce measures in support of this vital sector’s recovery to assist global Britain – essentially to support the international trade we rely on.

Covid-19 has affected the aviation industry more than most other sectors – it was one of the first to be affected and will be one of the slowest to recover. Not only is it a significant employer of Crawley residents but with British aviation being world leading, our country as a whole.

I made this call in the House of Commons, in cross-party approaches to secretaries of state, as well as in the local and national media.

Over the summer of 2020, the Group launched its Aviation Recovery Plan, making 10 key calls to the Government.

I have been clear that aviation’s recovery is not only about flights and trade, it is about what the sector means to hard-working families and whose employees have in many cases given significant periods of their lives to the industry.

In September 2020 I took part in the House of Commons debate on the aviation sector’s future. Obviously a subject of great importance not only to our national Covid-19 impacted economic recovery but for Crawley’s wellbeing too.

In Parliament in November 2020 I reiterated my calls on issues ranging from moving on from quarantine, testing, addressing Air Passenger Duty and business rates; I was grateful to the Government and the Global Travel Taskforce for listening to our calls.

The impact of business rates on affected firms was a key issue. After lobbying the Government confirmed a new package of financial support for English airports and ground handlers serving them. For Gatwick Airport, this funding is designed to help with the cost of paying business rates, providing much-needed financial relief.

Airports, airlines and other aviation businesses were able to draw on the Government’s unprecedented support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Business Interruption Loans. In total, the aviation and aerospace sectors have received over £9 billion in support.

During the period of Covid-19 restrictions I called for the safe resumption of international travel, including leading a parliamentary debate in support of the sector in June 2021. In September of that year, I welcomed the Government’s announcement of a simplified international travel regime.

In November 2021 I spoke in Parliament in support of further Government backing for airports in England, and I called for a cut in the costs of PCR testing in light of the Omicron variant.

Covid-19 restrictions for air travel ended in March 2022 and with that came a greater focus on the recovery of the sector. As Chair I continued to work with Government and industry to help secure the recovery of aviation, travel and tourism, and further progress on issues such as its route to net zero carbon emissions through the Jet Zero strategy, sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen technology development.

I additionally led representations of cross-party MPs to HM Treasury calling for the introduction of duty-free shopping on arrival shops at British airports; this would boost employment and economic activity, providing much needed revenue to British ports rather than passengers spending on duty free abroad.