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Green recovery of aviation sector likely to mean less flying and no regional airport expansion, says AEF

22nd September, 2020

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow Expansion and Regional Connectivity is undertaking an inquiry into “Building Aviation Back Better: Developing an Environmental Strategy”, and asked for evidence on how to ‘reset the UK’s aviation strategy and initiate a green recovery’. AEF has now responded to this consultation, highlighting seven key points in response to the APPG’s questions.

  1. Given the delay to the publication of the Aviation White Paper, the Government should use the forthcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan to set out how it will ensure the aviation sector delivers net zero emissions. The pro-growth stance of the draft aviation policy can no longer be justified.
  2. Until and unless measures are put in place to put aviation on a path to net zero emissions any airport growth or expansion, including at regional airports, will inevitably result in an increase in emissions and should not be permitted.
  3. The aviation sector should not be given bailouts. Many airlines have benefited from government loans and made extensive use of the staff furlough scheme during the pandemic.
  4. Aviation taxes should be increased, both in order to make a fairer contribution to public expenditure particularly in the context of delivering a green recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic and to ensure that the environmental costs of air travel are internalised in ticket prices.
  5. Even before the impact of Coronavirus, jobs per passenger in aviation had been steadily falling for many years, probably as a result of increasing automation at airports and an increase in the proportion of low-cost travel. Since seeking to increase the volume of air travel in order to protect jobs is clearly not a sustainable option environmentally, the Government should focus on supporting aviation workers to find alternative employment in the green economy.
  6. As set out in our recent comments on the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the most important policy step to ensure aviation decarbonisation would be to include the international aviation emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets.
  7. In considering the community impacts of aviation, the Government should undertake research on the health impacts of concentrated flightpaths.

Our full consultation response can be read here.