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Future of the aviation and aerospace industry

Volume 678: debated on Monday 6 July 2020

The petition of the residents of the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North,

Declares that job losses at British Airways, Rolls-Royce and across the aviation and aerospace industry will be a devastating blow to employees of these firms and will cause major economic damage to the whole of the UK; further that this will particularly affect constituencies like Paisley and Renfrewshire North, which have large aviation sectors; supports the early intervention by the Scottish Government in removing the business rates liability for one year and urges the UK Government to follow suit; and welcomes the 1,167 signatories to the related petition from Gavin Newlands on the aviation industry.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to secure a sustainable future for the aviation industry, to ensure that urgent discussions take place between relevant ministers and these firms to protect the maximum number of jobs, and to ensure that workers play a full role in the decisions being taken about this industry.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Gavin Newlands, Official Report, 3 June 2020, Vol. 676, c. 974.]

[P002568]

Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Kelly Tolhurst):

The Government recognise the challenging times facing the aviation sector as a result of covid-19. Aviation plays a critical role to our future as a global trading nation and for local economies such as the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North. Additionally, we recognise that this will be a very distressing time for employees of British Airways, Rolls-Royce and across the aviation and aerospace industry, as well as for their families and for local communities that are supported by the industry.

The aviation sector is able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, including a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, time to pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees and VAT deferrals. These measures have been designed to ensure that companies of any size receive the help they need to get through this difficult time, airports, airlines and the wider supply chain.

Our absolute focus in Government has been combating coronavirus, with a view to the safe return to aviation, when the science allows. We have kept an open dialogue with the aviation and aerospace sectors with regular structured engagement from the start of the pandemic with unions and industry bodies such as ADS, AoA and Airlines UK as well as with individual airlines, airports, ground handlers and manufactures.

More recently, the Department for Transport has established a restart and recovery unit to work directly with the sector, focusing on the immediate practicalities of restarting the sector and to set a clear vision and objectives looking forward to the longer-term recovery phase. This work has already started in earnest with the international aviation taskforce's industry expert steering group, a collaborative working group with representation from across industry and Government, including the devolved Administrations. Through this group we have recently developed safer travel guidance for operators and passengers, published on the 11 June 2020. This group will also consider how the industry can restart flying and ensure that it can grow sustainably in the future.