The majority of UK flights continue to be on time and without disruption. However, some passengers have faced significant disruption, which has also occurred in the aviation sector across Europe and globally. The outcome for too many consumers has been unacceptable.
I have made it clear to the sector that they need to operate services properly and according to schedule or provide swift, appropriate compensation.
I have already announced a one-off amnesty on airport slot rules, enabling airlines to plan ahead and avoid last-minute cancellations. I expect airlines to use this one-off amnesty now to ensure they are giving consumers certainty by offering schedules they can deliver.
By the end of the slot handback period, I expect airlines to be offering services they are confident of delivering, and I will continue to seek reassurances from them that this is the case.
We have been extensively engaging with industry at ministerial and official level since the beginning of the year. As part of this engagement the Aviation Minister established a weekly Strategic Risk Group. This brings together CEOs from airports, airlines and ground handlers to work through the issues ahead of the summer.
Today (30 June 2022), I am setting out all of the 22 measures the government is currently taking to support the aviation industry, including:
- to help recruit and train staff
- ensure the delivery of a realistic summer schedule
- minimise disruption
- support passengers when delays and cancellations are unavoidable.
The government recognises that these issues are primarily for industry to solve, but this series of targeted measures will support their efforts.
There have been calls for a seasonal worker scheme to allow EU workers to fill vacant roles in our aviation sector. But the government is clear that more immigration is not an obvious solution.
The aviation sector’s issues are not confined to the UK. Disruption is happening across the EU and in the USA due to staff shortages, and the government is committed to building a robust and dependable domestic aviation industry, launching the Aviation Skills Retention Platform to help develop and hold onto UK workers.
Similar schemes in other sectors experiencing shortages, such as the HGV sector, have not been widely used and have not significantly contributed towards a solution. Building a resilient, well-paid British workforce will prove a far more effective, sustainable and long-term solution.
The government has taken action to support the industry, now the sector itself needs to take the appropriate steps to ensuring they deliver realistic summer schedules, work together as an ecosystem, and put the consumer first.