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Pilots welcome the ‘first step to removing the shackles that have constrained aviation’

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) says it’s pleased the Government has listened to its calls to simplify the traffic light system and remove some of the barriers to international travel. BALPA has also called on Ministers to help rebuild public confidence in a phenomenally safe mode of travel.

The pilots’ union says the announcement will help open up travel but has highlighted the specific challenges that UK aviation still faces after a difficult summer under Government restrictions.

Latest figures show UK aviation is still lagging behind European competitors when it comes to recovery from the crisis. Gatwick Airport tops the list of worst affected airports in Europe and Heathrow Airport reports august passenger numbers were down 71% on 2019.

BALPA says the industry now needs to come out of hibernation but explained that getting aircraft and pilots back in operation is costly. That’s why BALPA is calling for investment from the Government to help the sector through this vulnerable time.

BALPA Acting General Secretary Martin Chalk said:

“We welcome the changes, that we called for multiple times, as a first step to removing the shackles that have constrained aviation this summer. But there is still a way to go before UK aviation can truly take-off again and the industry remains precariously placed after a dire summer season.”

“Gatwick still tops the list of airports in Europe worst affected by the crisis and our airlines are in a comparatively poor place compared to international competitors.

“With furlough ending it is going to be hard for cash strapped airlines to get back up and running as demand returns. That’s why aviation still needs bespoke investment from the Government. We must ensure pilots have the appropriate training and are available to ramp up as demand returns.

“Aviation is only just emerging from lockdown. We need to be ready to make the most of the increased interest in international travel, to build back to being a world leading industry and help drive the UK’s economic recovery.”