Aviation Industry — [Sir Edward Leigh in the Chair]

Part of Worker Exploitation: Leicester Textile Industry – in Westminster Hall at 3:19 pm on 18th November 2020.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley 3:19 pm, 18th November 2020

I thank my right hon. Friend Chris Grayling for bringing the debate. I also thank the Minister for listening to our reasons, and for meeting me late last week on this subject and for the support he is giving us. I wrote a longer speech, but I have decided not to read it as the last time I wrote a long speech I missed the ending, which was the main ask. I am going to start with the asks first, and if I overrun it does not matter too much, does it? The asks are for regional airports to be helped with business rates, because they are struggling and that would help, and for the Minister to continue speaking to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about the testing that is desperately needed at airports. If we can get testing sorted out at airports, then we can get planes in the sky again.

Now for the reasons why. The airport industry in the UK is the third largest aviation industry in the world, and it is super important. It is 4.5% of our GDP. It is a great industry within our country, but it is struggling. Doncaster Sheffield Airport in Don Valley, which I represent, is no exception to that and it is really struggling. It is a shame because it has fantastic potential. Only a month ago, Wizz Air made Doncaster Sheffield Airport the second place to fly their planes from. They have two aircraft there and I went to the usual MP’s ceremonial ribbon-cutting event. It was wonderful to be there, only for us to go into lockdown a fortnight later, which made things really difficult.

I know it is not the Government’s fault and I have been a big fan of what the Government have done. The furlough scheme has been fantastic and has helped a lot of industries, including the airline industry. I am sure the Minister knows, but I want to get over to him how important the industry is, how important Doncaster Sheffield Airport is to Don Valley, and Doncaster as a whole, and how important it is for the country as we come out of covid. We would be grateful for anything that he can do to help this industry.