Research by the Airport Operators Association (AOA) and published by HMRC shows the scale of the financial impact on COVID-19 on aviation based on the latest Air Passenger Duty (APD) statistics.
According to AOA, in the first year of the pandemic (March 2020-February 2021), HMRC collected less in APD (£638.3m) than it did in just the two summer months July-August 2019 (£729.9m). In total, HMRC collected more than £3bn (83.3%) less tax from March 2020-February 2021 than it did in the same period in 2019/20.
AOA’s Chief Executive, Karen Dee, said the latest government figures on APD show how devastating the collapse in air traffic has been as a result of the pandemic. “With aviation being a driver of economic growth and prosperity and 1.6m jobs relying on aviation and tourism in the UK, our economic recovery hinges upon allowing the safe re-opening of international travel,” she said.
“It is disappointing that the number of nations on the green list remains extremely limited and that vaccinated people are subject to restrictions when travelling to low-risk nations. This is not the meaningful restart aviation and the UK economy need right now.”
The UK Government’s ‘green list’ of countries and territories that travellers from the UK can enter without having to quarantine on their return includes: Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel and Jerusalem, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
“The UK’s world-leading vaccination programme combined with advanced testing capabilities should allow for a genuine green light for international travel. The Government needs to introduce affordable, rapid testing for green country arrivals and keep the green list under constant review and add countries as soon as the improving health situation in Europe and the US allows,” continued Dee.
Charlie Cornish, Manchester Airports Group CEO, added that “the aviation industry will be especially concerned that the Government appears to have ignored clear scientific evidence, which shows that testing and vaccinations can support safe travel to a larger group of low-risk destinations.”
He also stated that, “Aviation supports more than 1m jobs and generates billions of pounds of economic value but is being held back by much tighter controls than any other industry. The industry has been impacted more than any other sector, and we need the same positive recovery plan that other parts of the UK economy have been given.”
Meanwhile, Henry Smith MP, Chair of APPG for the Future of Aviation added: “The economic consequences of the collapse in international travel have been devastating for sector businesses and aviation communities.
“But these impacts are far more wide reaching, aviation is an economic enabler and this limited restart of international travel risks holding back our economic recovery and continuing the pain felt by so many over the last year.
“The limited green list risks holding back the restart of our aviation industry and the full restart of a truly Global Britain… We cannot have a full economic recovery if our aviation and travel industries remain on their knees, a full, safe and proper restart of international travel is an economic imperative and there is much more that the Government must do.”