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UK Government launches aviation strategy

Posted 17 December 2018 · Add Comment

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will today fly to Switzerland to sign an agreement that ensures air services will continue operating between the UK and Switzerland after Brexit, as the UK Government launches a green paper outlining its aviation strategy.

The new bilateral deal guarantees the terms of the current EU-Switzerland agreement on air services, safeguarding the route that carried 6.8 million passengers by air in 2017 as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "The UK aviation sector is the biggest in Europe and will play an even more crucial role as we further develop as an outward looking global nation.

"These agreements will ensure Britain continues to prosper as we leave the EU and I’m confident the UK will reach a mutually beneficial deal, whilst we continue to prepare for all eventualities."

Alongside this, the government is today launching the Aviation 2050 consultation - a long-term plan for sustainable growth to ensure the industry’s continued success.

It proposes new measures to ensure the UK’s aviation sector continues to bring significant benefits to the UK economy and citizens up to 2050 and beyond, including a new passenger charter, practical requirements to reduce emissions and noise levels and more use of innovative technology.

Aviation is worth more than £22 billion to the UK economy through creating jobs, boosting growth and connecting regions. As passenger and freight demand increases, the consultation proposes a partnership for future sustainable growth.

This will ensure the UK continues to benefit from a world class choice of connections and airlines while tackling the environmental and community impacts of flights.

The consultation also sets out how the government plans to modernise our airspace, ensuring journeys are quicker, cleaner and more efficient in the future, reducing congestion, noise and emissions and helping avoid future delays.

Aviation Minister Liz Sugg said: "Our aviation sector is world-leading and the Aviation 2050 strategy will promote success in the coming decades.

"Our ambition is to expand our international connections, boost trade and investment and strengthening domestic links to support businesses and travelling passengers.

"By working with industry we will drive sustainable growth, ensuring the next generation will continue to benefit from the growing number of opportunities this exciting and innovative sector offers."

Proposals to support aviation growth in the consultation include:

  • setting out a framework for future sustainable growth
  • commitments to signing further liberal air service agreements with countries around the world to boost trade and tourism
  • measures to encourage greater competition and more choice for passengers
  • modernised UK airspace to improve efficiency and reduce delays

Building on the positive steps already taken by the industry in balancing further growth with action to address environmental and community impacts, the document outlines new practical requirements to reduce emissions and noise levels for local communities alongside tougher enforcement measures.

It includes plans to embed noise exposure levels into the planning approval process, the introduction of noise caps which will be regularly reviewed and enforced, along with the appointment of a Chair of the new Independent commission on civil aviation noise.

Tackling climate change will be a key requirement of future growth, with a proposal for negotiating a long-term global emissions target for international aviation to incentivise industry to adopt cleaner technologies.

Plans include that applications for growth must also demonstrate they will not prevent the UK’s ability to meet its Climate Change Act 2008 targets.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: "We welcome the next stage in the government’s aviation strategy. Airlines look forward to continuing to work with Ministers to create a strategy that helps to deliver sustainable growth in our sector. To connect UK families and businesses domestically and to the world, deliver value for money, and further improve the travelling experience for all passengers."

The consultation follows parliamentary approval for a new runway at Heathrow earlier this year, which will provide new routes and support businesses across the country, supplemented by a world class package of compensation and mitigation measures for local communities.

The strategy will seek to further maximise benefits to regional growth and connectivity by encouraging efficient use of infrastructure beyond Heathrow, delivering greater capacity at UK airports and driving competition between airlines to deliver better value for money for customers.

The A Fair Tax on Flying Campaign, which is backed by a coalition of ABTA - The Travel Association, Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, and BAR UK, has welcomed the references to Air Passenger Duty (APD) within the new aviation strategy green paper consultation.
Dale Keller, from BAR UK and spokesperson for the group said: "The launch of the Green Paper marks the first time that APD has been officially acknowledged by the Government as being an intrinsic part of a strategy on aviation. It has long been a huge frustration to consumers, businesses, and the industry that the world’s highest air tax on passengers has been set in isolation by successive Chancellors looking for an easy tax grab, rather than working across Government on a strategy to deliver the most connected, competitive and efficient aviation sector globally.
"UK APD is the highest aviation tax of its kind in the EU by a huge margin.  It is double the next highest EU member, Germany. Since its introduction in 1994, long-haul economy APD has risen by an eye watering 680% from £10 to £78. Only aviation can connect the UK to the markets we will need to trade with post Brexit and the aims of the new Aviation Strategy can only be achieved if the Government acts quickly to cut APD by at least 50% in order to become globally competitive."

Responding to the publication of the Aviation Strategy Green Paper, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee said: “The Aviation Strategy Green Paper's proposed partnership for sustainable growth is a welcome recognition of the enabling role aviation plays for the UK. It means the Government recognises that improving aviation connectivity is crucial to boosting economic growth and creating new jobs across the UK as part of a Global Britain agenda.

“The UK aviation industry has a long-standing commitment to sustainable growth. As a result of investment in innovation and new technology and development of new operating procedures , UK aviation has emitted less CO2 in 2017 than in 2005, despite more passengers travelling.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the Government to create a final Aviation Strategy that puts the consumer at the heart of an ambitious plan for boosting investment in UK airport infrastructure, lowering barriers to expand the UK's route network as well as ensuring we have a secure but welcome border.

“Efficient surface access to airports is vital to ensuring future sustainable growth and providing better connectivity for passengers. We look forward to working with the Government on bringing much needed clarity and consistency to the surface access planning process, aligning relevant stakeholders and ensuring schemes are delivered at pace.

“A strong Government commitment to airspace modernisation, delivered in close partnership with industry, will be vital to reduce noise impacts and further CO2 emission reductions. Further specific measures around noise are best set at a local level, in close collaboration with communities around airports to reflect local circumstances and concerns."

Professor Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield University, said: “The aviation strategy green paper is a welcome step towards enabling the UK to unlock the potential of digital aviation. As technological advances enable greater integration between aircraft and emerging technologies such as such as drones and autonomous vehicles, it is vital that regulations and legislation keep pace.

“At Cranfield, together with our industrial partners,  we are helping make the vision set out in the green paper a reality. Last week, our airport became the first in the UK to operate through a digital air traffic control centre. This technology will enable smarter approaches to air traffic control by digitising and integrating airport functions. We are shortly about to commence the first test flights of the National Beyond the visual line of sight Experimentation Corridor (NBEC), that aims to provide a safe, managed environment for drone and unmanned aircraft experimentation which will work towards their integration into controlled and uncontrolled airspace.

“Both of these capabilities are a key component of our UK flagship research facility, the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC), due to officially open in 2020. Working with our partners in DARTeC, we are looking to develop new digital solutions to tackle the challenges of over-capacity in both airports and airspace, develop improved passenger experiences and create more sustainable air travel.”

Find out more about the government’s aviation strategy, click


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