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

My hon. Friend is correct. Major infrastructure such as airports always have a wider impact than the activity that they directly partake in. The success of Manchester airport has been a big contributor to the wider local economy and the supply chain, and that is something that we are very mindful of within the Department for Transport. We are working with our colleagues across Government to ensure that we understand the full impact of the difficulties within the aviation sector.

I would like to point out that the Manchester Airports GroupMAG—and Manchester airport were among the leading members of the expert steering group working with us to devise that health and passenger guidance, and I thank them very much for that. We have built on progress, and on Monday we announced that the Government would shortly begin to ease the health measures at UK borders, allowing passengers to be exempt from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances on arrival in the UK. The joint biosecurity centre, in close consultation with public health and the chief medical officer, has developed a categorisation of countries and territories that present a lower risk, so that passengers entering the UK from those places will not require 14 days of self-isolation. This has been informed by factors including the level of covid within a country, the number of new cases and the expected trajectory in the coming weeks. Further details, including a full list of those countries from which arriving passengers will be exempt from self-isolation, will be announced shortly.

Throughout this process, public safety has been at the heart of our decision making. We have worked closely with health and policy experts from across Government to ensure that the steps we are taking are gradual and minimise the risk of new covid-19 cases, while helping to open up our travel and tourism sectors. We want the aviation sector to return to normal operations as soon as possible. However, even with this week’s announcements, there is a great deal of uncertainty around how long this will take, given the truly international nature of the sector. We want to ensure a safe customer journey in the UK and abroad. We also want aviation to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. The aviation sector must be a green one that creates high-quality, high-skilled jobs.