Aviation, Brexit and COVID19 (ABC) 10

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Now, the topic for writers is what will the new normal look like for civil aviation, and everything else for that matter. That’s the new normal post-COVID-19. Inevitably there’s a great deal of expert speculation wrapped-up in such writings. Without a tried and tested way out of the different national lockdowns there’s a fair degree of guess work going on. That said, public support for the lockdowns remains high, but beneath this, people are having quite different lockdown experiences.

The first recognition of Europe Day was by the Council of Europe in 1964. On Tuesday, the Council of Europe[1] turned 71-years-old. Its 47 Member States are dedicated to the protection of Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law.  Its work is more relevant now than it has ever been. Especially, when on Friday, we recognise the sacrifices that were made during the World Wars. Many people will be marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day[2] in their homes as the coronavirus outbreak prohibits public gatherings.  History is clear, supporting a strong relationship between the UK and Continental Europe is essential for all our futures.

Also, this week trade talks between the UK and US have kicked-off. This maybe a big mistake having not completed negotiations with the European Union (EU) and during the COVID-19 crisis. Defeating the pandemic should be the UK Government’s sole focus for months to come. At the moment, there’s a lack of seriousness coming from Westminster.

Initially, the UK Government downplayed the risks of COVID-19 but now the world has succumbed to the reality of the pandemic. Trying to fix international relationships covering most of the UK’s trade and travel at a time of great turmoil is unwise. The unprecedented economic and social challenges posed by COVID-19 means we could lock ourselves into arrangement that subsequently turn out to be detrimental but fixed.

In the UK, the Pilots’ Union is saying that civil aviation is in a “death spiral”[3]. This language may seem emotive but there’s good reason for it given the downsizing that aircraft operators are planning. Job losses are certain. A smaller industry will result.

Last year, a part of the Article 50 EU withdrawal process was the possibility of a No-Deal Brexit which in the end both parties avoided. That was a temporary respite. This year, there’s another deadline in prospect; the end 31 December 2020. Last time the brinkmanship practiced produced an agreement but there was no global downturn in progress.  This time is a billion times different. Brinkmanship is not the right formula in 2020.  It’s plain foolish and reckless.

[1] https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal

[2] Victory in Europe Day on 8 May.

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/coronavirus-uk-flights-airlines-aviation-pilots-union-a9498766.html

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