We have delivered approximately £8 billion of support for the aviation sector through the pandemic, and we are currently developing a strategic framework to help support the sector’s recovery.
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Has he given any thought to how public service obligations could help support regional airports right across the UK, including in Scotland—such as Aberdeen airport, which serves my constituency—to recover from the covid-19 pandemic?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. May I congratulate him on his campaign and his support for his constituents’ campaign, particularly that led by Val Fry, to reintroduce flights to Aberdeen such as the easyJet flight from Aberdeen to Gatwick. I have flown from Aberdeen. I can see its importance, and I know that it is exceptionally important particularly for the offshore energy industry. We recognise the significant impact that covid-19 has had on regional airports. We will consider whether there are further opportunities to utilise public service obligations.
Having failed to secure a sector-specific deal from the Treasury, the industry is recovering much more slowly than our international competitors, and now we have the spectacle of an unholy row between airlines and airports on landing charges. With the new rules on slots, we have the prospect of planes flying empty or with half loads. Industry leaders tell me that the Secretary of State has been missing in action, but he has been busy shoring up the beleaguered Prime Minister’s whipping operation—we would like to thank him for that. Is it not time for the Secretary of State to step up to the plate when it comes to aviation?
The Secretary of State and all members of the Government have been in constant contact with the aviation sector, and it is through that that we have been able to tailor our response. We have given £8 billion of support to the sector. The airport and ground operations support scheme is on top of that, and there is the aviation skills retention platform. The Government wholeheartedly support the aviation sector, particularly in getting it flying again.