Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Priorities for the aviation sector - strategies and policy for post-pandemic recovery and growth, long-term development, and a greener future

Morning, Wednesday, 15th September 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the opportunities for improving connectivity, driving growth, and developing a long-term vision for aviation - looking at priorities for government, and for action within the sector itself.


It will be an opportunity to discuss policy initiatives developed to help the industry’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, including:

  • the Aviation Recovery Plan
  • the Global Travel Taskforce: safe return of international travel policy paper
  • the Aviation 2050 green paper

Stakeholders and key policymakers will also consider implications of further significant policy developments, such as the National Infrastructure Strategy, the Union Connectivity Review, and the ongoing consultation on aviation tax reform.


Sessions in the agenda look at:

  • the impact of COVID-19 - implementing the Aviation Recovery Plan, and adapting to changes in consumer trends
  • opening up international travel post-pandemic - including priorities for improving consumer confidence
  • preparing for increased demand - priorities for meeting future capacity needs, improving international connectivity, and supporting recovery and growth
  • greener aviation - key steps and issues for transition in line with net-zero policy objectives, and the potential impact of the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy
  • developing a long-term vision for the aviation sector - including supporting regional connectivity and wider policy priorities

The agenda

  • Examining the current state of UK aviation, and what is needed from policymakers for resilient sector recovery
  • Meeting the challenges of COVID disruption - setting clear guidance on reopening, rebuilding consumer confidence, and the protection of commerce and non-passenger services
  • The financial sustainability of aviation - options for supporting key stakeholders and developing safety nets against future market shocks
  • Assessing future demand for airport and flight services, priorities for fully restarting international travel, and latest thinking on airport expansion
  • Aviation and regional growth, and long-term steps for building up capacity - priorities for boosting regional airport connections, intermodal transport links, attracting customers, and skills and employment
  • Next steps for decarbonising aviation and modernising the sector for net-zero - the innovation pathway and commercialising sustainable fuels, and what is needed from policy and industry action
  • Priorities for aviation policy in the UK and meeting key sector challenges - rebuilding, commercial resilience, working towards the low-carbon transition, and enabling regions to lead in recovery

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the Aviation Recovery Plan - anticipated for release later this year, and expected to:
    • offer a long-term outline for restoring aviation services to pre-pandemic levels
    • set out how the sector can take advantage of growth opportunities beyond COVID-19
  • The safe return of international travel - the DfT-convened Global Travel Taskforce identifying conditions for restarting international travel, including:
    • safety precautions
    • rebuilding consumer confidence
    • coordinating reopening with the vaccine rollout
  • Aviation 2050 green paper - the Government’s position on long-term sector development and decarbonisation, and precursor to the pandemic-delayed full aviation strategy white paper, including:
    • priorities around extending global aviation connections
    • how the sector can work towards net-zero by 2050
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy:
    • the Government’s plan for development up to 2050
    • with priorities relevant to aviation, freight and commerce through greater intermodal transport, and regional infrastructure connectivity
  • aviation tax reform - HM Treasury consultation on how changes to the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax could support union connectivity and reduce financial burdens on passengers and the industry
  • Union Connectivity Review: interim report:
    • identifying
      • a range of priorities for improving air connections between UK nations
      • boosting direct links between remote regions
      • restoring routes that were lost following the collapse of Flybe
      • increasing air freight
    • a final report expected for publication in the Summer
  • the Regional Air Connectivity Review - with publication delayed as a result of COVID, the Review will outline:
    • the Government’s vision for how connectivity can be enhanced
    • how the ‘levelling up’ agenda can be enabled across UK regions

Key areas for discussion:
Restart and recovery of UK aviation:

  • policy priorities - assessing what is needed for short-term recovery guidance, and a long-term vision for rebuilding UK aviation, including:
    • setting stable rules on international travel
    • minimising barriers to sector operation, including across airports, airlines and tourism
    • building resilience for future crises
  • priorities for reopening - establishing replicable systems for the safe restart of airports, including:
    • implementation of accessible and easy health checks
    • clarifying documentation needs for passengers
  • funding - latest thinking on financial support measures, and how design can address airline challenges surrounding operation and financial sustainability, including:
    • the scope for further grants and capital assistance
    • delivering targeted operational aid
    • programmes for career retention and rehiring
  • rebuilding passenger confidence and interest - such as through the establishment of stable rules and systems for travellers, and widening travel corridors
  • stakeholder priorities - looking at how best to take advantage of sector rebalancing, including:
    • opportunities for increasing freight services
    • reorienting supply chains for commerce

Future airport capacity

  • aviation demand and airport expansion - looking at the long-term perspective, as well as:
    • assessing domestic and international travel recovery speeds
    • how to ready cross-sector stakeholders for new demand
    • overcoming barriers to airport expansion, including engagement with local groups, policymakers and industry, and communicating trade and business opportunities
  • regional airport expansion and development - what is needed for:
    • scaling up connections between airports
    • boosting union and regional links
    • ensuring intermodal transport connections are fit for purpose
  • local economic development - the role of regional airports in economic growth and development, including opportunities for:
    • boosting local supply chains
    • reducing barriers to retail and business connections
    • enabling tourism, jobs, and local benefits
    • dovetailing with the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda

Next steps for decarbonising aviation:

  • alternative fuels for aviation - priorities for commercialisation, and how challenges for use can be overcome, including:
    • looking at what is needed for mobilising investment
    • developing industry and policy guidance
    • facilitating partnerships across airline operators and stakeholders
  • UK leadership in engineering and innovation - priorities for government support, including:
    • opportunities for working with manufacturers to facilitate development and commercialisation
    • supporting development of aviation technologies for export markets
  • supporting net-zero ambitions - priorities for policymakers and industry, including:
    • setting ambitious climate targets for airports, aircraft and airline operators
    • how these can integrate with the wider goals of carbon-intensive sectors

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.


Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, together with other stakeholders including transport and environmental services, airports, airspace management, construction and engineering firms, charities, passenger groups, lawyers, local government, academics and commentators, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Speakers

Gary Cutts

Challenge Director, Future Flight Challenge, Innovate UK

Tim Alderslade

Chief Executive, Airlines UK

Senior speaker confirmed from Heathrow Airport

Jimmy Samartzis

Chief Executive Officer, LanzaJet

Richard Williams

Head of Transport Policy, Consumer Council

Alan Newby

Director, Aerospace Technology and Future Programmes, Rolls-Royce

Tony Payne

Partner, DLA Piper

Karen Dee

Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association

Alex Veitch

General Manager, Public Policy, Logistics UK