Henry Smith MP has welcomed last week’s announcement from Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, that Government is extending its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until Spring 2021.
As the MP for Crawley, which includes Gatwick Airport, Henry had continued to call on ministers to extend the furlough scheme for aviation sector employees until the end of March of next year, and has welcomed confirmation that Government is going further by continuing this scheme in its entirety.
“It’ll come as a welcome boost to Crawley and Gatwick employers to know that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – furlough – will be continuing in full until next Spring.
“This is support which I’ve been calling for to help our local aviation sector for some months now, and it was a key part of the Aviation Recovery Plan which I sent to the Transport Secretary in August as Chair of the Future of Aviation Group – a new coalition of MPs working to secure sector-specific assistance for this industry.
“There remain a number of other points where Government can ensure greater support for this sector. The industry is essentially going to experience three winter seasons, particularly with the new November lockdown restrictions in place.
“I’ve continued to pursue the issue of Air Passenger Duty, a tax on flying which hits families and businesses alike. It’s more important than ever that this charge is suspended until the autumn of 2021.
“We also need to see progress on the issue of COVID-19 passenger testing. The introduction of a testing regime at airports would provide a huge boost in public confidence for the industry.
“Further action from Government on these issues will help the aviation sector recover, and support jobs, workers and families in Crawley.”
Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport, commented;
“We welcome the extension of the Government’s furlough scheme to enable us to continue to preserve as many jobs as possible. We are also grateful for the support of the Future of Aviation Group and the leadership shown by its Chair and our local MP, Henry Smith.
“The aviation sector urgently needs Government support to recover by helping to restore passenger confidence in travelling.
“We urge the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce to swiftly announce its proposals for a ‘test to release’ scheme, so that it can be implemented to coincide with the end of lockdown on the 2nd December. We also believe a single pre-airport, pre-departure testing regime, based on existing risk criteria, should replace the current uncertainty of quarantine and the patchwork of approaches which currently exists on testing across Europe.
“It would help eliminate quarantine, restore consumer confidence by safely opening up most of the UK’s travel routes as well as keeping passengers safe by helping to reduce transmission of the virus and helping to preserve thousands of aviation jobs.”