London Heathrow CEO enchantment to G7 Ministers: Open our Skies!
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of London Heathrow Airport, desperately appeals to the G7 ministers
With the start of the G7 today, ministers have the chance to fuel the global green recovery by agreeing on a safe resumption of international travel and a mandate for sustainable aviation fuels that will decarbonise aviation. This is the time for them to show global leadership. “
- London Heathrow has faced suppressed demand for 15 straight months, with passenger numbers 90% below pre-2019 levels – a loss of over 6 million passengers a month.
- A month after the government welcomed the restart of international travel and reassured the public that a risk-based traffic light system would unlock low-risk travel, the system has yet to do what it was designed to do.
- Ministers’ refusal to provide transparency on the data behind decision-making and the failure to put in place a green “watch list” has undermined consumer confidence.
At the next UK government review to assess COVID-19 restrictions on 28 expensive lateral flow PCR tests for low risk arrivals.
With ministers now pledging to prioritize domestic unblocking and not giving a clear end date for travel restrictions, a bespoke support plan needs to be put in place for the ailing and neglected travel industry. The sector employs tens of thousands of people across the UK who will wonder what will happen to their jobs and livelihoods after another lost summer. The government should deliver targeted compensation to the sector, starting with easing corporate tariffs and extending the vacation program, while ministers continue to include travel restrictions.
Reopening transatlantic travel is vital for the UK and US and we welcome the creation of a joint travel task force.
Earlier this week, the CEOs of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as Heathrow Airport, teamed up to emphasize the need to reopen the transatlantic corridor safely. Research by CEBR shows that U.S. Heathrow passengers spent over £ 3 billion across the UK in 2019. The UK was the top U.S. tourist destination prior to the pandemic, but that leadership position is in danger of being eroded and undermining our global ambitions for the UK from France and Italy, which will open their doors to vaccinated American travelers as early as the coming weeks.
The G7 leaders must seize the opportunity to join forces and address one of the greatest challenges of our generation, climate change. Major airlines within the G7 have committed to aiming to fly net by 2050, but we can only achieve this goal by rapidly expanding the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). The technology exists – Heathrow received its first shipment from SAF last week – but we need the right government policies to build confidence in demand. We call on world leaders to work together to expand mandates for SAF use from 10% by 2030, to at least 50% by 2050, and price incentive mechanisms that other low-carbon sectors have put in place, to commit. The G7 should take global leadership in the commitment to net zero aviation, endorse at least 10% SAF in their communique, and form a global coalition for those who support that goal.