Aviation, Brexit and COVID19 (ABC) 6

low angle photo of airplane
Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com

Headless and free running, the UK’s Conservative Government is locked into policies that are no longer fit for purpose. The UK Prime Minister’s speech in Greenwich, London on 3 February 2020[1] is profoundly out of step with contemporary reality. The Government’s playbook is out of date. Overtaken by events. Even if he may not have said it, former PM Harold Macmillan is remembered for saying: “Events, dear boy, events[2]

I sincerely hope certain stories are mere social media gossip and speculation. One is that the national economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic will be so dramatic that no one will notice the contribution made by a poor Brexit execution. It’s like saying that, if the house is suffering subsidence no one will notice the paint peeling off the walls. Damage is damage. That damage can always be put down to a world-wide phenomenon. Then there’s blaming China too.

Does this explain why it’s reported that the UK will not request an extension to the Brexit transition period[3]? Hard to tell. If it is then it’s short-termism of the worst kind.  However, the possibility remains that the parties could support a transition extension at a high-level conference in June 2020.

Given the coronavirus crisis, the next UK-EU negotiating rounds will take place by videoconference[4]. The technical work of the two sides includes transport but the agendas of the next sessions are yet to be published. There is an argument against Brexit transition extension, but this isn’t a particularly convincing one, as all other bilateral trade deals are being delayed. For example, talks between the UK and US have been postponed with no sight of when they might start-up.

European aviation and aerospace have been one of the first industries to be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. It will take one of the hardest hits. Support to the aviation and aerospace workforce and the industry can be a lifeline[5]. One that will be pivotal to Europe’s recovery after the pandemic.

London Heathrow (LHR) saw 80 million passengers in 2018[6]. Now, the UK’s biggest airport has been thrown back into the 1970s. They have moved to single runway operation[7]. LHR Terminals 3 and 4 are about to temporarily close. Cargo flights continue but the predictions are for lasting and significant changes to stick.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-in-greenwich-3-february-2020

[2] https://www.markpack.org.uk/13422/events-dear-boy-events-harold-macmillan/

[3] https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-uk-will-not-request-an-extension-to-the-brexit-transition-period

[4] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/STATEMENT_20_672

[5] https://www.etf-europe.org/work-in-the-time-of-covid-19-transport-workers-stories/

[6] CAA airport statistics for numbers of air passengers at UK airports in 2018/2017.

[7] https://www.heathrow.com/customer-support/faq/coronavirus-covid-19

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