Covid-19: Aviation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 3rd June 2020.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 12:42 pm, 3rd June 2020

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his place as shadow Minister. I am responding to this urgent question as the Minister responsible for aviation who has been working with the sector over the last 10 weeks to understand the impacts and the issues related to our airlines, airports and the whole aviation sector.

We cannot overestimate the impact that the coronavirus has had on the whole UK economy, and the aviation sector has been acutely affected. We have been working hard in Government, and it is pretty clear for most people to see the unprecedented level of support that the Chancellor and this Government have delivered across the economy, which has had a massive impact in the aviation sector. The Chancellor was incredibly clear that any business that had explored all the Government schemes and needed bespoke support as a last resort could enter into discussions with the Government. It is absolutely right that we request those private businesses to exhaust all other options before that, including raising capital from existing investors and exhausting all the economy-wide measures that are in place.

The job retention furlough scheme has had a massive impact in the aviation sector in keeping people employed. As I outlined in my opening answer to the urgent question, I will do whatever I can as Aviation Minister to encourage companies to use the furlough scheme and make use of the other Government schemes without making people redundant. We absolutely have not been asleep at the wheel. I am not sure that anybody else recognises that description. Of course, a bail-out by the taxpayer or any other Government support would need to comply with state aid rules and require us to meet our legal obligations, particularly on climate change.

On quarantine, the Prime Minister made it very clear at PMQs just now that we need to keep the infection under control, and the Home Secretary will introduce measures to try to mitigate it.