The UK government has set out a 22-point plan to support the aviation industry and avoid a repeat of this year’s Easter and half-term disruption.
The government’s support will include helping to recruit and train staff; ensuring the delivery of a realistic summer schedule; minimizing disruption; and supporting passengers when delays and cancellations are unavoidable. Other actions set out in the action plan include measures taken to reduce the time it takes to get new staff on board while maintaining high security. This will include changing the law to ensure greater flexibility over background checks and enabling employers to use an HM Revenue and Customs letter to verify five years of employment.
The government also intends to launch an aviation passenger charter for the summer of 2022. Developed in partnership with industry and consumer groups, the charter will be a comprehensive guide for consumers, informing them of their rights and what they can reasonably expect of airports and airlines when flying. The publication follows the one-off ‘amnesty’ on airport slot rules, where the government has given airlines a short window to hand back slots for the rest of the summer season if they are not confident they will be able to operate them. This is intended to help passengers find alternative flights ahead of time, rather than face the last-minute cancellations seen over the Easter and half-term holidays. This is being provided as an exceptional measure while the industry recruits the staff it needs.
Grant Shapps, the UK government’s Transport Secretary, said, “Holidaymakers deserve certainty ahead of their first summer getaways free of travel restrictions. While it’s never going to be possible to avoid every single delay or cancellation, we’ve been working closely with airports and airlines to make sure they are running realistic schedules. The 22 measures we’ve published today set out what we’re doing to support the industry. It’s now on airports and airlines to commit to running the flights they’ve promised or cancel them with plenty of time to spare so we can avoid the kind of scenes we saw at Easter and half term. With 100 days passed since we set out that restrictions would be eased, there’s simply no excuse for widespread disruption.”
Robert Courts, the UK government’s Aviation Minister, commented, “I’ve been meeting regularly with the industry ahead of the summer holidays, and I’m enormously grateful for the constructive way we’ve been able to discuss what went wrong at Easter and half term. The action we’ve taken to support airlines and airports isn’t just about minimizing disruption this summer but helping the sector recruit the staff it needs for the long term. I look forward to continuing to support them in this effort where we can.”
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, added, “We share the government’s ambitions for resolving the travel issues that we’ve seen in previous months. These actions will help the sector to be more resilient in dealing with strong consumer demand. We will work alongside the government and the wider industry to help deliver a better experience for passengers. I’m looking forward to the Civil Aviation Authority being part of that collective effort.”