Aviation minister reserves judgement over travel restart


The aviation minister has refused to confirm that the country is ‘on track’ to restart international travel next month or to confirm that he will seek further financial support for the industry if the planned re-opening does not happen.

Robert Courts, minister for aviation at the Department for Transport, appeared before the Transport Select Committee on Wednesday morning to answer questions from MPs about the Global Travel Taskforce Report.

The report was published last week and set out Government’s recommendations ‘to support the safe return of international travel following the coronavirus pandemic’.

Mr Courts attended a hybrid committee meeting

Mr Courts was asked by Conservative MP Simon Jupp: ‘Are we on track to restart international travel for business and leisure on 17 May?’

He replied: ‘We have said thus far that there won’t be any travel before that. We have to have a review point, in line with the domestic road map, and it will depend on all of the factors that we’ve set out. So we will have to look at that at the relevant time.’

He added: ‘It’s a review I would expect to happen around the beginning of May.’

Mr Courts also said it was ‘too early to say’ which countries would be on which list under the Government’s planned traffic light system, which will determine what action returning travellers will be required to take.

Labour MP Grahame Morris asked the minister whether it was his intention to argue the case with the Treasury for further financial support for the aviation industry if there were further delays to restarting international travel.

He replied: ‘The sector has been a beneficiary of the economy-wide support that the Treasury has rolled out to the tune of approximately £7bn. I’m not going to get into speculating about what we might do under certain circumstances, if they were to happen.’

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