Thank you to everyone who has emailed me about conditions on support for the aviation industry.
It will take a long time to recover from the impact of coronavirus. I believe the Government needs to act quickly and put in place a support package for the aviation sector which must include robust environmental conditions. It is important that as we transition to a green economy, we protect jobs so that people can be reskilled for the future. It will be far easier to transition from a point of strength than one of weakness.
The Government must make it clear that any bailout packages given to aviation companies can only be granted on the condition that a clear climate plan, consistent with the Paris Agreement, is in place and that companies have set out clear conditions to protect workers. This must include a clear commitment to tackling climate change and for the industry to use cleaner fuels and other cutting-edge low or zero emission technologies. In addition, there should also be a requirement that any company in receipt of money ensures its tax base is in the UK and that no dividends should be paid until the company is proven to be commercially viable, as we have seen in other countries.
The Government has stated that the aviation sector can enter into a process of discussion with the Department for Transport “if the existing types of support are not sufficient”. It advises a number of such discussions are taking place, but cites “commercial confidentiality”. I am aware that the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, issued by the Treasury and the Bank of England, has given loans of £600 million to easyJet and £300 million to IAG, British Airways’ parent company. Greenpeace said the easyJet loan “lost a major opportunity to change one of the economy’s more environmentally backward sectors”.
I am also aware that a consultation on net zero aviation is expected to be published later this year and will follow developments on this closely. We cannot go back to business as usual after coronavirus. Our recovery should be led by green industries with renewed efforts to cut carbon, protect fragile habitats and create green jobs.