SASIG Newsletter – March 2022

Editor’s Highlights

A lower key month in terms of major aviation policy announcements, the focus being on the ending of all remaining COVID-related travel restriction rules and the Government’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The latter include suspension of services to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, re-routing of commercial services away from the war zone and Russian controlled territories, seizing of Russian aircraft using UK airports and rapidly escalating fuel prices impacting airline margins and raising the prospect of fuel surcharges being introduced.

Perhaps the most notable domestic initiative was a further consultation on the Government’s Aviation Net Zero strategy – this one technical in orientation and the tabling of some procedural amendments on slots. Meanwhile, there is no further news to report on the Government’s Aviation Strategy document although it is still expected in June, while the Budget had little of direct relevance to aviation (e.g. any recovery funding), although the commencement of the next round of Levelling-up funding could be relevant to airports and their local authority partners.

Notable industry developments during March included substantial staff recruitment campaigns by larger airports, the re-start of services by the new Flybe and Leeds Bradford withdrawing plans to build a new terminal (even though it had secured planning approval) in favour of expanding the existing building and agreeing to partner Urban-Air Port to develop the first e-VTOL station at a UK airport – it won’t be the last!

Chris Cain

Policy Director

Monthly Highlights

14th MarchGovernment announces end of all remaining travel restrictions rules. This will start from 18 March. More details are here.

15th March – The Secretary of State for Transport’s statement on International travel rules is here.

23rd March – Chancellor unveils his Spring Statement 2022.

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).

12 May 2022: 10:00: SASIG meeting: via Zoom

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).

 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.

4 May 2022: Airports Development & Future of Aviation Conference: Concorde Conference Centre, Manchester.

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

  16-18 June 2022: AeroExpo UK: Cotswold 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

1 MarchLocal Transport: COVID 19 Recovery:

Government announces they will provide final package of over £150 million in further financial support to the local transport sector (bus and light rail). 

14 MarchGovernment announces end of all remaining travel restrictions rules. This will start from 18 March. More details are here.

15 March – The Secretary of State for Transport’s statement on International travel rules is here.

16 March – Correspondence from Rob Bishton, Group Director, Safety and Airspace Regulation, UK CAA to Chair of Transport Committee, relating to Fuelling the future: motive power and connectivity evidence session on 2 March, dated 8 March 2022 can be seen here.

23 March – Chancellor of the Exchequer unveils his Spring Statement 2022.

28 March – Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove announces both UK and Scottish Governments have jointly launched the bidding prospectus for green freeports. More details here.

Transport Questions:  House of Commons:

15 March – Blackpool Airport and Levelling Up.
The House was asked to consider Blackpool airport and the role of commercial passenger flights in levelling up.

17 March – Airports National Policy Statement 2018 and Jet Zero Strategy.
David Simmonds MP (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) asked the Aviation Minister if he will review the airports national policy statement 2018 following the development of his Department’s jet zero strategy. (Ref: 90612)

Transport Questions:  House of Lords

9  March  – Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) Order 2022: The House was asked to approve the draft order laid before the House on 9 March 2022. (Aircraft operators mentioned).

10March – Airports Slot Allocation (Alleviation of Usage Requirements) Regulations 2022:  The House was asked to consider this.

15 MarchAirports Slot Allocation (Alleviation of Usage Requirements) Regulations 2022: The House was asked to approve these.

Parliamentary Questions: 

Q.1. Question (133248) asked by Catherine West (Hornsey & Wood Green) on 2 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to stop UK airlines running empty or near-empty flights to retain landing slots at airports”.

A. Robert Courts on 8 March 2022: “The Government acted swiftly to tackle the risk of empty or near empty aircraft continuing to fly during the pandemic solely to retain their slots. The rules requiring airlines to fly 80% of their slots in order to retain them for the subsequent season were fully suspended for the Summer 2020, Winter 2020/21 and Summer 2021 slot scheduling seasons. The Government secured more flexible powers through the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft (ATMUA) Act 2021. This allows the Government to amend the usual landing slot rules, where the evidence supports, preventing airlines operating empty or near-empty flights. For the current Winter 2021/22 season, the Government has used the ATMUA Act 2021 to introduce a package of measures designed to support the recovery of the sector and protect air carriers from operating empty or near-empty flights. For the Summer 2022 season, further alleviation is planned which will support the recovery in passenger demand and give airlines the flexibility not to operate their slots where there are COVID-19 related restrictions. We will consult with airlines, airports and aviation industry bodies shortly on whether further alleviation is needed for the Winter 2022 season and beyond”.

Q.2. Question (133335) asked by Catherine West (Hornsey & Wood Green) on 2 March 2022: “What discussions he has held with airlines on the practice of running empty or near-empty flights to retain landing slots at airports”.

A. Robert Courts on 8 March 2022: “My officials and I have had regular engagement with industry throughout the pandemic and have worked constructively together on many cross-cutting issues. Targeted consultations have taken place with airports, airlines and industry bodies to discuss and gather evidence for what measures are appropriate. Our most recent consultation with industry took place between 15 November and 13 December which assisted us in our decision to continue with alleviation from normal slot usage rules for the Summer 2022 season. Further consultation on whether alleviation is necessary for the Winter 2022 season and what form this might take will take place shortly”.

Q.3. Question (133124) asked by Dr Liam Fox (North Somerset) on 2 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his timeframe is for making a cumulative environmental impact assessment for (a) all UK airports, (b) UK regional airports and (c) total aviation emissions”.
A. Robert Courts on 9 March 2022: “Airport planning applications should be judged by the relevant planning authority, taking careful account of all relevant considerations, including environmental impacts and proposed mitigations. In July 2021, we published the Jet Zero Consultation which outlines our vision for the aviation sector to reach net zero by 2050. The consultation focuses on the rapid development of technologies in a way that maintains the benefits of air travel whilst maximising the opportunities that decarbonisation can bring to the UK. We continue to carefully consider the consultation responses in the development of the final Jet Zero Strategy which is to be published later this year and will set out the framework for reducing aviation emissions from the sector”.

Q.4. Question (142059) asked by Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) on 17 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what legislative steps he plans to take to (a) provide the Civil Aviation Authority with additional powers and (b) mandate alternative dispute resolution within the aviation sector”.
A. Robert Courts on 22 March 2022: “The Government remains committed to ensuring consumers are protected when travelling by air, which is why we published the Aviation Consumer Policy Reforms Consultation in January 2022. Next steps, including consideration of any potential legislative requirements, will be published following comprehensive analysis of the responses received on the consultation following its closure on the 27 March 2022”.

Q.5. Question (142058) asked by Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) on 17 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government plans to include in the Brexit Freedoms Bill the proposals that are taken forward after consultation from the Aviation Consumer Policy Reform proposals”.
A. Robert Courts on 22 March 2022 – see answer to Q.4.

Q.6. Question (145956) asked by Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) on 23 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has consulted under Article 438 of the UK and EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the planned measures in the Aviation Consumer Policy Reform proposals; and if he will make statement”.
A. Robert Courts on 28 March 2022: “The Aviation Consumer Policy Reform Consultation was shared with the relevant EU officials. The consultation is open to responses from anyone with an interest in the proposals, including from the EU”.

Q.7. Question (145956) asked by Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) on 23 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to amend Regulation EC261/2004 as retained in UK law, which expires at the end of 2022”.
A. Robert Courts on 28 March 2022: “We are currently consulting on a number of aviation consumer protection areas in the Aviation Consumer Policy Reform Consultation. Next steps including consideration of any potential legislative requirements, will be published, following comprehensive analysis of the responses received on the consultation following its closure on the 27 March 2022”.

Q.8. Question (148447) asked by Rachel Hopkins (Luton South) on 28 March 2022: “To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Luton South of 16 March 2022 on London Luton Airport Operations Limited’s annual passenger cap amendment”.
A. Stuart Andrew on 31 March 2022: “A response to the Hon Member will be issued shortly”.

National and Regional News

1st MarchSITA streamlines Luton Airport operations. It has helped the airport reduce time and cost required to manage and plan routine operations such as aircraft stand planning. Meanwhile the airport has committed to Net Zero by 2050 – see here.
1st MarchGatwick looking to fill around 400 new roles across multiple airport departments as it prepares to reopen its South Terminal ahead of an expected busy summer.

3rd March – An article about a new digital platform that will transform aircraft turnarounds at Gatwick can be read here.

6th March – Reports say the Scottish Government has adopted aviation industry claims that expanding Heathrow airport will not lead to increased emissions from Scotland – see here.

6th MarchTaxi driver representatives oppose the ability to add a £5.20 Heathrow Airport drop off fee ‘extra’ to the metered price. They claim it opens up an unwelcome precedent.

7th March – An article in Airport Review titled: ‘Exploring how analytics can improve the passenger experience and create safer, more efficient airports’ is here.

8th MarchStansted unveils £12 million departure lounge investment.

8th MarchFlybe reveals new senior leadership team as it prepares for Birmingham take-off.

8th MarchA £2m investment at Liverpool John Lennon Airport will create 200 jobs. The airport is expecting a much busier summer this year post-pandemic.

9th March – Gatwick looks ahead to successful summer as losses narrow. More details here.

10th MarchTeesside International Airport reveals first look at new viewing platform, bar, and office space. Completion is expected in May.

10th March – Leeds Bradford Airport shelves plans for new terminal. It follows what it calls “excessive delays and decision to call in plans by the SoS for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities”.

11th MarchHeathrow is to hire 12,000 staff for summer travel boom. Airport also warns that recovery in the aviation industry is “being overshadowed by war and Covid”.

11th March – AEF says UK airports will be ‘less confident’ about expanding after Leeds Bradford axes plans – read here.

13th MarchLondon Gatwick South Terminal to reopen later this month.

14th MarchLoganair reconnecting Isle of Man with London. Services to Heathrow and London City begin next month.

15th March – An article titled: ‘Reaching net zero for direct carbon emissions before 2040’ by the Director of Corporate Affairs, Planning and Sustainability at Gatwick is here.

15th MarchHeathrow drops mask wearing rules for passengers. It will come into effect from tomorrow.

16th MarchNewcastle airport handles thousands more flights in 2021. Take-offs/landings up 16% from 2020 which was the lowest number since comparable records began in 2010. However, Manchester Airport was down 1% from 2020 figures.

16th MarchLuton Airport offers 400 new jobs in preparation for busy summer ahead.

17th March – Gatwick Express set to resume non-stop service to airport in April – see here.

17th MarchCampaigners opposing the expansion of Bristol Airport will take their fight against the plans to the High Court.

18th MarchEastern Airways to add Humberside-Cornwall route. It will operate twice per week from 1 April with services on Monday and Friday. 

18th MarchFormer Speke Airport site set for lift off with plans for two industrial units. It is around 8 miles south of Liverpool City centre.

19th March – Electric taxi charge points located at Heathrow are unlikely to drop below the current £9 for a full charge say taxi representatives – see here.

21st MarchLondon City Airport enjoys 4th consecutive busiest week since start of pandemic. The summer outlook is also looking strong.

22nd March – Flybe returning to the skies over UK on 13 April – see here.

22nd MarchA driverless shuttle, owned by Solihull Council and designed and built in Coventry, will make its debut at Birmingham Airport for the first time this week.

22nd March – How Gatwick’s South Terminal was re-opened after two years – see here.

23rd March – Gatwick promoting long-haul options – see here.  

23rd MarchTfL increases number of trains to Heathrow Airport. Plus the new Elizabeth Line underground service finally prepares to open.

24th MarchAhead of an anticipated busy summer, Leeds Bradford Airport is recruiting for 60 new positions. It says it’s experiencing strong signs of recovery from pandemic.

25th MarchClimate protesters march through Bristol against the planned expansion of Bristol Airport. They are concerned about increased emissions from the airport.

25th MarchManchester Airport announces reopening of T3 from 27 March. The phased reopening starts with it being used for arriving passengers travelling with selected airlines.

25th MarchSITA Airport Management streamlines operations at London Luton Airport. They report the airport are reaping the benefits from the new streamlined process.
28th MarchManchester Airport is set to reopen its second runway from next Tuesday. This is to allow for additional flight movements due to T3 re-opening.

28th MarchWizz Air expands London Gatwick routes as Terminal 3 re-opens. It’s launched the first of 18 new routes.

29th MarchAfter 2 years BA returned to international short-haul flying from Gatwick Airport today. Its first service departed for Larnaca at 6:25am.

30th MarchLeeds Bradford Airport partners eVTOL company Urban-Air Port to develop aerial vehicle hub.  It will be for manned and unmanned vehicles.

30th MarchPlans to expand London Luton Airport will be opposed by St Albans councillors and the city’s MP.

30th MarchRyanair inaugurates new base at Newcastle Airport. It will base two aircraft at the airport, claiming this will create around 60 jobs.

31st MarchTaxi drivers must pay £5 drop-off fee at Heathrow from 30 April. The charge is part of Heathrow’s updated Surface Access Plans and long-term sustainability strategy.  

31st March – DHL Supply Chain has announced the extension of its Gatwick ground handling agreement through to 2027 – see here.

31st MarchA humanitarian hub has been set up at London Luton Airport to provide practical support for air passengers arriving from war-torn Ukraine – see here.


Other Aviation Industry News

1st March
Transport Minister visits site of Inverness Airport station. It will cost £14m.

1st March – For details on a new Cranfield University and Inmarsat report on technology innovations for aviation, please see here

3rd March – An article about the Future Flight Challenge which looks at aviation technology in the future can be read here.

4th March – Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says airports are among the key infrastructure at risk and UK is not prepared – see here.

4th MarchAirports took significant Omicron hit in January says BTN Europe.

5th March – Aer Lingus Regional operation to relaunch at Belfast City Airport later this month – see here.

7th MarchDAA given green light for tolled drop-off zones at Dublin Airport. Construction set to begin later in year.

7th March – Volocopter secures $170m funding for electric passenger air taxi launch – see here.
8th MarchAlderney residents to have their say on airport expansion plans. Options include extending the runway and improving the terminal building.

9th March – Major brands back flying taxi and drone airport plan at Coventry– see here.

10th March – An article titled: ‘Improving safety and efficiency in airfield operations’ can be read here.

11th March – A new 9MW solar farm linked to battery technology and electric vehicle charging infrastructure is set to be installed at Edinburgh Airport – details here.

12th March – An article titled: ‘The future of aviation starts with connectivity’ can be read here.

14th March – An article titled: ‘Placing sustainability at the core of future airport growth’ can be read here.

14th MarchGovernment announces end of all remaining travel restrictions rules. This will start from 18 March. More details are here.

16th March – An article in Airport Technology titled: ‘Covid’s effect on long-haul flights will have a big impact on aviation emissions’ can be seen here.
16th March – Prestwick Airport loan funding: An FOI release can be seen here.

17th March – Flybe’s new owners announce return to Belfast Airport. They say Belfast City will be its second main base of operations.

18th March – An article on eVTOL aircraft: current and potential regulation challenges can be seen here.

21st March – An article on how smart rate-making and gate management can maximise resource usage at airports is here.

22nd  MarchScots ministers condemned by a cross-party group of MPs for ploughing £50m into ‘failing’ Prestwick Airport while failing to back other airports during pandemic. Meanwhile, there are claims for an ‘Urgent need’ for an airport recovery plan as struggling Scots hubs may take years to recover from Covid – see here.

22nd MarchRyanair to aim for carbon neutrality by 2050. It intends to cut emissions by switching to sustainable aviation fuel and making technological improvements.

22nd March – An Airport Technology article titled: “What impact will the Russia-Ukraine conflict have on the aviation sector?” can be read here.

23rd March – IATA launches CO2 calculation method – see here.

24th MarchUK consortium completes Urban Air Mobility Ops Concept for CAA. Eve UAM, LLC (“Eve”), an Embraer S.A. (“Embraer”) company, has announced the completion of the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for airspace integration of Urban Air Mobility in the UK.

24th March – Cork Airport revamps website to enhance customer service offering – see here.

24th MarchRAF Northolt Airport to bring back weekend operations.

25th MarchShannon Airport Chair of the Board quits after six months. Some say it has sparked concerns about the airport’s future.

28th March – Airports’ pandemic revenue losses top £10billion say AOA – see here.

29th MarchNew Oxera study confirms that the extent to which rail travel can substitute for air travel is limited. It’s titled “Short-haul flying and sustainable connectivity” and is here.

29th March – An article in Airport World titled: ‘Challenging Times’ about the aviation industry’s recovery from the pandemic can be read here.

29th March – Airbus performs a first A380 flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – see here.

30th March£3 million grant from Stormont for City of Derry Airport. This has secured its immediate future, says MD.

30th March – ACI World releases new research demonstrating the need to modernise global policy frameworks on airport charges – see here and here.

31st MarchOver 200 airports now participate in ACI Europe’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. Newcastle, Shannon and Jersey Airports were among the latest to join.

31st MarchEdinburgh Airport warns of “queues and disruption” this summer. This is down to staff shortages as a result of the pandemic.


SASIG Library Additions

There were no Library additions this month.