Manchester Airport and the Local Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 2nd July 2020.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 4:38 pm, 2nd July 2020

I congratulate Navendu Mishra on securing this debate about Manchester airport and the local economy, and I thank my hon. Friend Andy Carter for his contribution. I know that Mike Kane has a keen interest in Manchester airport but is unable to speak in the debate. I have listened carefully to the points that the hon. Member for Stockport has made and will endeavour to address as many of them as I am able to.

As Members across the House will be well aware, these are incredibly challenging times for the aviation sector. Covid-19 has presented unprecedented difficulties for the industry, but we must not forget that the aviation and aerospace industry is a British success story. Before the impact of covid-19, the UK aviation sector contributed at least £22 billion to the UK economy each year and directly supported around 230,000 jobs spread across the UK. Around 12% of those jobs are in the north-west, so I am mindful of the impact that covid-19 is having on communities across the region.

Aviation is one of the sectors worst affected by covid-19, and areas such as Manchester, with its large airport and supply chain, are particularly affected. Having held regular discussions with the whole sector since the pandemic began, I met again with senior management from Manchester airport earlier this week. I want to thank them for their constructive engagement throughout this period, as we continue to work collaboratively with the sector to ensure its recovery. I was very encouraged, as I am sure the hon. Member for Stockport was, to hear this week that Manchester airport plans to reopen terminal 2 from 15 July, following the opening of terminal 3 this week. I know that we still have a long way to go, but this shows the beginning of the sector’s recovery, as flights once again take to the skies.

The restart comes on the back of the unprecedented package of measures that the Chancellor put in place to protect the economy and jobs. The hon. Member spoke about support for this particular sector, and I am afraid that this is where we disagree. The support provided was unprecedented and has enabled airlines, airports and ground handlers to benefit from a significant amount of taxpayer support during the most critical time. It did not end there. The Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport were incredibly clear that any business needing further support, having exhausted all the economic measures that were put in place, will have the ability to talk to us about further support. We stand ready to speak to any business that is in that situation and has used all that support.