The UK’s new Aviation, Maritime and Safety Secretary has outlined the country’s position on a number of key issues affecting the industry, including Obligation of air passenger (APD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Speaking at the Airlines 2022 conference in London on November 21, Baroness Ver rejected calls to cut APD and ruled out a further review, saying: “We just reviewed Airline Passenger Services, so we won’t be looking at that again.”
The current UK APD ranges from £6.50 (US$7.70) for a domestic economy class ticket to £191 (US$227) for a long-haul, business or first class ticket. An even higher rate now applies to most private jet flights.
Greater investment in the SAF is needed
Baroness Ver also took the opportunity to outline the UK Government’s commitment to sustainable aviation fuel, confirming that five new SAF plants will be built in the UK by 2025.
However, others at the conference did not believe it had gone far enough. General director of the company Virgin AtlanticShai Weiss, criticized the pace of SAF innovation in the UK, saying,
“The UK plans to build five plants by 2025, but at the end of 2022 there is not a single plant that has made a final investment decision. I fear that in 2025 we will see most of our capacity for the SAF coming from overseas.”
Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
Weiss went on to say that the SAF investors were “still awaiting final details, or more likely, as usual in the UK, another consultation”.
When it comes to investment in the SAF, the numbers speak for themselves – the UK government has so far pledged just £165 million ($195 million) to support SAF development, compared to $4.3 billion pledged in the US.
With no changes to APD on the horizon, where will the money needed for vital SAF further developments come from? Baroness Ver raised this issue at the Airlines 2022 conference, saying:
“I think we’re going to have to talk about whether the industry pays, whether the traveling public pays, whether the taxpayers pay.”
Photo: London Heathrow Airport
Improvements in consumer protection
During her time at the conference, Baroness Ver also touched on the challenges faced by passengers this summer and her desire to improve consumer protection as a result. Widespread disruption was seen across the UK, particularly for passengers with reduced mobility (PRMs), with staff shortages to blame for most of the problems.
Countries across Europe and North America have faced similar challenges, with many airlines now conducting massive recruitment drives to ensure they have enough staff to cope with the expected further increase in travel demand next summer. German flagship Lufthansasuch as at present looking for 20,000 new employees.
What do you think of the UK government’s plans for air passenger collection and green jet fuel? Who do you think should be responsible for paying for future SAF developments? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
https://simpleflying.com/aviation-minister-apd-saf-changes/ UK’s new air secretary says no APD reform, more needs to be done for SAF