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Aviation Sector: Financial Support

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 1 December 2020

What recent financial support his Department has provided to the aviation sector; and if he will make a statement. (909589)

It is great to see you in the Chair, Mr Speaker. I thank my right hon. Friend for his very constructive engagement with the Government on this important issue. The Government have recently announced, as he will be aware, a package of financial support for English airports and ground handlers. This support, which will shore up jobs and reinforce local economies, will be equivalent to the business rates liabilities of each business up to a maximum of £8 million per site. It has been warmly welcomed by the Airport Operators Association.

I thank the Minister for that additional support for regional airports, which is very welcome, but the steps taken by the Government generally to move a small distance towards reopening the aviation sector last week go nowhere near what is needed. We face a situation in January when the Brexit transition period will be open, but our principal airports and our principal aviation links to key business centres around the world will effectively still be closed. I urge the Chancellor and the Minister to use every influence they have in government to get that dealt with and at least to get airport testing and what is necessary available on those key strategic routes.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to focus on testing. As he will be aware, the “test to release” regime combines a much shorter self-isolation period with a real focus on public health. As he will also know from the global travel taskforce report, we as a country are continuing to explore pre-departure testing with partner countries on a bilateral basis, including different models by which that might be delivered.