Speaking at Abta’s Travel Matters conference in London, chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “A year ago, I set out a number of areas in which we needed to see urgent progress - aviation access, movement of key workers, VAT and consumer rights. Twelve months on and we still don’t have any clarity on any of these.
“On aviation access, probably the most critical issue, the government has said that it “fully expects” that a deal will be done before March 2019. The industry, along with the rest of the nation, is holding them to account on this.”
Tanzer said business in general was right to speak out against a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU – which could potentially mean no aviation agreements or the right to employ UK staff abroad.
“We are surely approaching a crunch time, when hard choices will have to be made, and the government should listen to those who have knowledge on their side, rather than just ideology,” he said.
Aviation minister Baroness Sugg sought to reassure the audience, saying said the government was making progress in its negotiations over air travel rights. She said it had agreed the implementation period that will see the current arrangements continue until the end of December 2020.
Tanzer concluded that the industry still had a “bright future” despite the lack of clarity. “Even now, in spite of general uncertainty and the devaluation of sterling, bookings are up, in volume and value. That shows an enduring commitment to and confidence in taking holidays overseas,” he said.
Travel Matters also heard from CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty, who said Heathrow would be ‘doing itself a disservice’ if it were to go back on its commitment to affordable charges to fund expansion. He outlined the regulator’s role in making sure expansion was delivered in a cost-effective manner for businesses and consumers, saying the CAA “will continue to put pressure on Heathrow to rise to the occasion”.