SASIG Newsletter – December 2021 

Editor’s Highlights

December saw a relatively quiet end to 2021 – another turbulent year for the aviation sector. The expected Aviation Strategy announcement was delayed as was the Airspace Modernisation Strategy as the prevalence of the Omicron variant again meant adjusted departmental priorities. The good news was the Government’s red travel list being scrapped – the bad news was increased restrictions introduced by a number of third party countries on arriving UK passengers.

At the beginning of the month SASIG’s Policy Director was invited to set out a land use planning agenda related to aviation noise and airspace changes, to DfT’s ANEG group. This was well received (the presentation can be found in the SASIG website Library), and there was a follow-up invitation to discuss the issue with DLUHC.

In Parliamentary Questions, the absence of any direct mention in the Union Connectivity Review saw the future of The Heathrow Western Rail link queried, as were planning applications at Luton Airport. The Aviation Minister, Robert Courts and the Chancellor also announced a third extension to the AGOSS scheme for airports.

Following the completion of a franchise agreement between Emerald Airways and Aer Lingus, 11 Aer Lingus Regional services between the UK and Dublin were announced, as was a new base in Belfast. With the ‘new’ Flybe having announced its base at Birmingham, the prospect for regional airline competition looks much improved and, as we learnt from presentations at the 16 December SASIG meeting, domestic and near Europe aviation which they specialise in are actually a relatively carbon efficient form of transport within the Common Travel Area.

Chris Cain

Policy Director

Monthly Highlights

3 December – SASIG presented at the Government’s ANEG meeting. 

12 December – Government’s red travel list to be scrapped after only a fortnight.

14 December – From 4am tomorrow all 11 countries on the red list will be removed.
16 December – Final SASIG members’ meeting of the year.
17 December – CAA publishes its 2021 Airspace Modernisation Report (CAP2281)

Events, Meetings and Conferences

SASIG Meetings

(To note: depending on any restrictions continuing, some of these meetings may be held virtually. It is therefore advised to check with the Secretariat first before making any travel arrangements).

23 March or 25 May 2022: SASIG conference/event: Westminster Suite, LGA or virtual. TBC.

6 July 2022: 10:30: SASIG meeting/AGM:  Westminster Suite, LGA or virtual. TBC.

External Conferences (please note: due to the pandemic, some changes may have occurred).

            10 February 2022UK Emissions Trading Scheme: WEETF online conference.

            5 April 2022: Next Steps for Freeports in the UK: WEETF online conference.
5-6 April 2022: Sustainable Skies World Summit: Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre.
5, 6 & 7 April 2022: Passenger Terminal Expo & Conference: Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Paris, France.

            18-20 May 2022: Routes Europe: Bergen, Norway. 

            16-18 June 2022: AeroExpo UK: Cotsworld Airport.

            22-23 June 2022: 5th British-Irish Airports Expo: ExCel, London.

            23-24 June 2022: Aviation World Congress, Kensington, London.

            28-30 June 2022: LGA Annual Conference, Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate.
18-22 July 2022: Farnborough International Air Show.  Farnborough Airport.

Parliamentary and Government News

Recess dates for both House of Commons and Lords: 
Both Houses rose on 16 December 2021 and will return on 5 January 2022.

14 December – Travel Red List
The Secretary of State for Transport gave an update regarding the International Travel Red List.

Transport Questions:  House of Commons: 

There were no Transport Questions in the House of Commons this month.

Transport Questions:  House of Lords

There were no Transport Questions in the House of Lords this month.

Parliamentary Questions:  

Q.1. Question (86612) asked by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) on 3 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason the Western Rail Link to Heathrow was not included in the Union Connectivity Review”.

A. Chris Heaton-Harris on 9 December 2021: “Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review was an independent review and it is not for the UK Government to respond to questions about what was and was not included”.

Q.2. Question (86161) asked by Sarah Olney (Richmond) on 2 December 2021: “To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an estimate of how much the £3.6 billion of Air Passenger Duty levied in 2019-20 would have increased by in the event that the exemption on Air Passenger Duty for international-to-international transit passengers at UK airports had been removed”.
A. Helen Whatley on 7 December 2021: “Air Passenger Duty (APD) is the Government’s principal tax on the aviation sector, since tickets are VAT free and aviation fuel incurs no duty. Members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), including the United Kingdom, are prevented from taxing international aviation fuel, or any proxies for fuel, under the Chicago Convention. APD raised £3.6 billion in 2019-20 and its primary objective is to ensure that airlines make a fair contribution to the public finances. APD is paid by airlines and is levied on a per-passenger basis on all flights departing UK airports”.

Q.3. Question (904501) asked by Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen & Hamilton West) on 1 December 2021: “What assessment he has made of the potential effect of agreements made at COP26 on the aviation sector”.
A. Trudy Harrison on 1 December 2021: “COP26 saw 24 states, representing around half of global aviation emissions, commit to negotiating for a 1.5°C-consistent climate goal for aviation next year”.

Q.4. Question (87831) asked by Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) on 6 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the impact of the latest covid-19 travel restrictions on the aviation industry”.
A. Robert Courts on 10 December 2021: “Temporary border measures have been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the UK and slow the rise of cases within the UK, whilst our scientists work at pace to better understand this new variant. These measures will be reviewed next week to ensure they remain necessary and proportionate.

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the international travel sectors due to COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, we estimate that the air transport sector (airlines, airport and related services) will have benefitted from around £8bn of government support. The Department for Transport is working closely with HM Treasury to monitor the situation and we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review”.

Q.5. Question (91864) asked by Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) on 13 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2021 to Question 76827 on Aviation: Fuels, what progress his Department has made on assessing the potential merits of (a) regulatory mechanisms and (b) other methods that could be used to encourage the aviation sector to use UL91 fuel; and what discussions he has had on that work with the aviation sector”.
A. Robert Courts on 16 December 2021: “The Secretary of State has asked his officials to speed up work on finding safe alternative unleaded fuel such as UL91. Since then, the Department has engaged with sector stakeholders, international aviation regulators such as the FAA, and aviation fuel manufacturers, to identify effective measures. A survey to understand the sentiment of airfields and aircraft operator clubs has just closed and will be used to inform further policy interventions. Options that could be considered include information campaigns, improving the data and evidence, and measures to affect the relative price or access to different fuels. As this is still at policy development stage, engagement has been by officials, and the Secretary of State has not had significant discussions with the aviation sector on this”.

Q.6. Question (86536) asked by Andrew Rosindell (Romford) on 3 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing compulsory covid-19 pre-flight testing for international flights into the UK”.
A. Maggie Throup on 30 December 2021: “On 7 December, pre-departure testing was introduced for all arrivals into England aged over 12 years old, regardless of vaccination status. Early information suggests that the window between exposure to the virus and infection may be shorter for the Omicron variant. This may increase the efficacy of pre-departure testing as it is more likely to identify positive cases before travel”.

Q.7. Question (90949) asked by Daisy Cooper (St. Albans) on 10 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will urgently acknowledge the multiple call-in requests for Luton Council planning application reference 21/00031/VARCON, which would permit expansion of operations at Luton Airport; and if he will issue a Section 31 holding direction while he reviews these requests”.
A. Christopher Pincher on 15 December 2021: “Following receipt of a number of requests to call in this application to amend an existing permission, these will be considered against call-in policy, alongside the need for an Article 31 Direction, and a decision will be announced in due course. Article 31 directions are an administrative tool which prevent local authorities from issuing a final decision on a planning application while advice on call-in requests is being prepared by officials and considered by Ministers. Once a decision on call-in has been made and communicated, the directions cease to have effect”.

Q.8. Question (HL4986) asked by Lord Berkeley on 15 December 2021: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the estimated cost of the Western Rail Link to Heathrow and how much of that cost will be contributed by Heathrow Airport”.

A. Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 21 December 2021: “The total nominal capital cost for the Western Rail Link to Heathrow, in 2018 prices, is estimated at around £1.5bn to construct the rail link between Heathrow Airport Station and the Great Western Main Line. For the scheme to proceed, the Government has been clear that Heathrow Airport Limited would need to secure and provide an acceptable financial contribution”.

Q.9. Question (93047) asked by Ruth Jones (Newport West) on 14 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a financial support package for the aviation sector in the context of further covid-19 travel restrictions”.

A. Robert Courts on 17 December 2021: “The Government recognises the challenging times facing the international travel sectors due to COVID-19. Additional temporary testing measures introduced in response to the Omicron variant remain in place to help prevent additional cases of Omicron from entering the UK, while supporting domestic measures to tackle the spread of the variant in the UK. The Government recognises the impact these temporary health measures have on the travel and aviation industry, and they will be reviewed again in the first week of January. Since the start of the pandemic, we estimate that the air transport sector (airlines, airport and related services) will have benefitted from around £8bn of government support”.

Q.10. Question (90903) asked by Rachael Maskell (York Central) on 10 December 2021: “To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional support to the (a) hospitality, (b) tourism and (c) travel sectors with respect to the Omicron variant”.

A. Helen Whatley on 17 December 2021: “Plan B has been designed to help control the virus’s spread while avoiding unduly damaging economic and social restrictions. The Treasury continues to engage with businesses to understand and monitor the impact of the changing nature of the virus. Impacted businesses can continue to benefit from ongoing economic support, in place through to Spring next year, including the extension of the Recovery Loan Scheme and the Additional Restriction Grants.

Business rates relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England is available until March 2022, and hospitality and tourism businesses will continue to benefit from a VAT reduction – paying only 12.5% until March 2022. At Autumn Budget 2021, the Government also announced a new temporary relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in 2022-23 worth almost £1.7 billion. This will support the businesses that make our high streets and town centres successful to evolve and adapt to changing consumer demands until the next revaluation. Business will also be protected from eviction if they are behind on rent on their premises, thanks to the moratorium in place until March 2022.

Ultimately the best way to support airports and the wider travel sector is through the safe and sustainable recovery of international travel. The measures HMG introduced to slow the import of Omicron cases were precautionary and time-limited, and following the latest review we have now eased some of these restrictions – removing all of the countries from the Red list. The remaining precautionary measures will be reviewed on 5 January. The aviation and aerospace sectors are being supported with over £12 billion made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and grants for research and development.

In addition, the renewed Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme that the Chancellor announced at the Autumn Budget provides support for eligible businesses with their fixed costs for a further six months over the Winter period, up to the equivalent of their business rates liabilities for the second half of the 2021-22 financial year, subject to certain conditions and a cap per claimant of £4m.

Where applicable, travel businesses can continue to apply for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme through their local authority, which is open until March 2022. Throughout the pandemic, over £2 billion of discretionary business grant funding was provided to local authorities via the ARG to support businesses in their local area. Local authorities determine how much funding to provide to businesses and exactly which businesses to target”.

Q.11. Question (HL4987) asked by Lord Berkeley on 15 December 2021: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what commitment they have received from Manchester Airport to fund the proposed HS2 station for that city”.

A. Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 20 December 2021: “The Government remains supportive of a HS2 station at Manchester Airport, however the construction of this station and its inclusion in the final scheme remains subject to agreeing an appropriate local funding contribution. The Department have been, and continues to, work positively with Greater Manchester Local Authorities and Manchester Airport Group (MAG) on this matter”.

Q.12. Question (91944) asked by Dr Matthew Offord on 13 December 2021: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help achieve net zero emissions by 2050”.
A. Trudy Harrison on 20 December 2021: “In July 2021 we published the Transport Decarbonisation Plan – the first such Plan in the world – which sets the transport sector on the path to net zero by 2050. Since then we have already started delivering on its commitments, including confirming that the UK will introduce a zero emission vehicle mandate from 2024, end the sale of new, non-zero emission HGVs less than or equal to 26 tonnes by 2035 and that from 2040 all new HGVs must be fully zero emission at the tailpipe and put £180m investment into sustainable aviation fuel demonstration plants across the UK to deliver our ambition for 10% sustainable aviation fuels by 2030”.

National and Regional News

1st December – London Stansted has launched a consultation on plans for a 14MW solar farm designed to make the airport’s energy supply more secure – see here.

1st December – An article about how MAG’s CIO Nicolas Wood is plotting recovery in an aviation industry decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic can be read here.

2nd December – Heathrow airport reopens Terminal 4 as a separate arrivals facility for countries on the government’s Covid “red list”.

2nd December – London Luton Airport expansion plans approved. It means the airport would be able to handle 19 million people a year, up from 18 million.

3rd December – An article in Airport Technology titled: ‘Time for a new approach’ about Gatwick’s plan to become a two-runway airport can be seen here.

4th December – Flybe appoints Ground handling agent at Birmingham Airport. They have appointed Assured Aviation Services.

5th December – An article in Simple Flying titled: ‘74 Million Annual Passengers: Gatwick Airport’s Expansion Plans’ is here.

6th December – Summer Recovery: Heathrow plans to recruit 10,000+ staff. They are trying to build back up in the wake of the pandemic.

8th December – Gatwick Airport’s station takes next step. Major building works have now started on the second concourse.
8th December – TfL consults on fare rises and new Heathrow drop-off charges – see here.

9th December – Gatwick set to become the first international airport in the world to have its own dedicated electric vehicle charging hub on site. It will open next autumn.

9th December – MAG airports say passenger numbers down by a fifth since Day 2 testing returnThey’ve called on UK Government to review latest travel restrictions. 

9th December – Leeds Bradford Airport announces route to net-zero by end of 2030. See here for their new publicly available website for details.
10th December – Cargo booms at East Midlands Airport. Growing e-commerce demand along with container shipping congestion/cost is driving growth in air cargo at the Airport.

10th December – Heathrow says business passengers ae starting to cancel flights over fears they could be trapped by travel restrictions as the Omicron variant spreads – see here
12th December – Aer Lingus celebrates first Manchester to Orlando direct flight.

13th December – UK airlines ask PM to remove travel restrictions. Signed, among others, by CEs of BA, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, the letter says “travel has been singled out with the introduction of disproportionate restrictions.”

14th December – BA announces routes for its new London Gatwick short-haul subsidiary. Tickets go on sale today at

15th December – Eastern Airways debuts its Cornwall to London service on sustainable aviation fuel. Robert Courts, Aviation Minister said this was a ‘great milestone’.

16th December – Heathrow allowed to raise passenger charges by more than 50%. CAA said increase ‘reflects the uncertainty of the recovery of passenger volumes from the pandemic’.

16th December – Exeter Airport to start flights to Dublin next year – see here.

20th December – An article about Luton Airport’s proposed DART people mover is here.
20th December – An article about the newly-refurbished Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport can be seen here.

21st December – Mistake over date of Manston Airport closure prompts IPSO probe.

21st December – Easyjet to offer holiday flights from Southend Airport – see here
21st December – Jet2 is boosting capacity to sun destinations in Greece, Cyprus and Malta from Newcastle and Bristol Airports. They say it is to meet strong demand for 2022.

22nd December – Wizz Air announce “significant growth” at Gatwick Airport. They say it will help get UK aviation “back on its feet”. 

22nd December – Clean-up cost of Heathrow 3rd runway doubles to £100bn, MPs told. New study says this is twice the figure presented to ministers by the DfT in the 2018 ANPS.
24th December – ACI grants level 3+ carbon neutrality status to Bristol Airport. The airport reached the target of carbon neutral operations four years before schedule.
24th December – An article titled: ‘Hats off to Luton – how this airport town is taking off’ is here.

26th December – An article in Simple Flying titled: ‘Why is East Midlands Airport such a significant cargo hub?’ can be read here.

27th December – An article titled: ‘Why does KLM have such a strong presence at UK regional airports?’ can be read here.

29th December – An article titled: ‘UK international flights down by almost three-quarters from pre-virus level’ can be read here.

30th December – An Airport World article titled: ‘Industry outlook – past, present and future’ about the economics of the industry post-COVID can be seen here.

Other Aviation Industry News

1st December – Belfast International posted 238% bounce back in passenger numbers prior to Omicron development. This is according to official CAA data.

2nd December – Land beside Edinburgh Airport planned for 7,000 homes.

2nd December – Aberdeen and Glasgow Airport bosses uncertain over industry future. They say restrictions caused by Omicron variant has dealt another ‘hammer blow’ to the industry.

3rd December – EC approves amendment to Irish scheme to compensate airport operators in context of coronavirus outbreak.

3rd December – British Airways signs SAF supply agreement with Phillips 66. SAF will be delivered to BA through an existing pipeline infrastructure directly connected to UK airports.

4th December – An article titled: ‘How Airports Anywhere platform aims to crack the code of passenger micro-targeting’ is here.
6thDecember – UK unveils zero carbon hydrogen-driven aircraft concept. The new hydrogen-powered aircraft will be able to carry 279 passengers.
8th December – Survey commissioned by Gatwick Airport and Wizz Air shows passengers planning to travel in next year are concerned for increasing airfares if airport slot rules remain the same.
8th December – Cork Airport are confident of securing a return of a transatlantic route within the next three years despite the fragile recovery of the global aviation industry.
8th December – CAA publishes CAP2280: ATUMA: Enforcement Guidance seeking views on their draft Statement of Policy on Penalties. Further details are here.
9th December – IATA calls for governments to follow WHO advice and rescind Omicron-related travel bans. They say blanket bans will not prevent international transmission.
10th December – An article in Airport World stating that greater collaboration between airports and airlines will be key in a post-COVID world can be seen here
12th  December – Government’s red travel list to be scrapped after only a fortnight – see here.
14th December – Passenger flight choice continues to fall behind the recovery in air travel.
14th December – From 4am tomorrow all 11 countries on the red list will be removed.
15th December – Govt funding of almost €108m announced for Irish airports – see here.

15th December – An article in Airport World about managing workforces at airports can be seen here.

16th December – Airlines and airports praise EU slot threshold rise. They have set a minimum slot usage threshold of 64% for the summer 2022.
16th December – Aer Lingus Regional puts flights on sale from 11 UK airports. They will be operated through a franchise agreement with Emerald Airlines and start on 17 March.

17th December – A New Civil Engineer article titled: ‘Low emission aviation plans are not a green light for airport expansions’ can be seen here.

17th December – CAA publishes its 2021 Airspace Modernisation Report (CAP2281).

18th December – An article titled: ‘Which Airports Serve Scotland’s Shetland Islands?’ can be seen here.

20th December – Increase in Dublin Airport ‘no-shows’ after rule changes. It’s also revised downwards the number of people it expects to see coming through over the festive period.

21st December – Wizz Air removes 84 routes from sale. They are to be permanent.

21st December – Scottish Government decides not to go ahead with sale of Prestwick Airport – see here22nd December – Gloucestershire Airport awards contract for runway refurbishment.

22nd December – Scots ministers under fire for ‘botching’ Prestwick Airport sale – see here.

23rd December – Omicron impact immediate and substantial for Europe’s airports says ACI.
23rd December – Subscriptions could be the new trend in travel – see here.
24th December – Glasgow Prestwick meets encouraging post-COVID-19 operating profit.
27th December – An article titled ‘Airport Hubs on their Way Back’ is here.
28th December – For an article titled: ‘What Are The Differences Between Glasgow’s Two Airports?’ – please see here.
30th December – An article about the challenges faced by the air cargo industry and what it can expect in 2022 can be seen here.

SASIG Library Additions

Presentations by Andy Smith, Sustainability Manger at Loganair and Cameron Cain CEO at C-Squared Modelling, which were given at the members’ meeting this month can be seen on our website plus here and here.   

A document compiled by SASIG member, Cllr Louise Pepper, Uttlesford DC titled: ‘Aviation Sector: Simple Steps to fight Climate Change’ can be seen here.

A letter from SASIG Chairman to Kemi Badenoch, M.P. following their recent meeting can be seen in the members’ area on our website. (To note: this is Confidential to members only therefore if members wish to use this letter in the public domain they should seek approval from the Secretariat first).