Abta’s chief executive has criticised transport secretary Grant Shapps’s statement to the organisation’s convention this morning as “retrospective”.
“It was about what has been done and how grateful the industry should be for that… I don’t think it took on board that we are still in the middle of this crisis,” said Mark Tanzer after the appearance.
“The furlough may have saved jobs but it’s about what’s going to happen for the next six months as well. And it’s really critical that we do have support.
“The travel corridors he mentioned – they’re mainly shut at the moment. They may be open in theory but if you look at where we can actually go, there are very few places and moving to a much more regional approach is crucial.
“We have the three tiers so we must be able to apply those tests to international destinations as well.”
Tanzer particularly took issue with Shapp’s comments around testing: “Although he said an awful lot of work had gone in to testing, we’ve seen none of the results of that. And we absolutely have to hit the ground running with this testing regime if we’re going to move out of this.
“[The taskforce] seems to have just disproved various theories. You can’t do a day 0 test on arrival because of a-symptomatic cases.
“If it’s taken six months to establish that that’s not huge progress.”
“We need to know not just the medical but how the logistical side of it is going to work.”
Tanzer further described Shapps’s response to a question about sector-specific support as “very worrying”.
“He [Shapps] is the secretary of state for transport. I understand other sectors will be queuing up too, but he has to go in and bat for this sector.
“When we were looking at Heathrow expansion and Brexit all the talk was about aviation as a global necessity. Where is the evidence of that now?
“He needs to be talking about not just getting people on planes as an industrial sector, but as a key strategic asset that we have to maintain. These companies won’t be around to do that if they don’t get support now.”
Finally, Tanzer said he was “concerned” by Shapps’s remarks about Brexit aviation access to Europe.
“A year ago when we were coming up to potentially no-deal we had a standstill agreement that for a year whatever the outcome, aviation rights to be able to fly back and forth to Europe would be in place.
“He [Shapps] was suggesting we were waiting for a proposal from Europe that that will be the case and if it is we will reciprocate.”
Tanzer said it was essential we had clarity around that so as not to deter bookers.