In a speech given last month to the Airport Operators Association annual dinner, Lord Ahmed moved to reassure the UK’s aviation industry that yes, their concerns regarding Brexit have been heard, and that aviation and aerospace will continue to grow in importance in the UK economy going forward.
During the speech, now available online, Lord Ahmad noted the relatively strong performance of the UK since the Brexit vote and said that looking forward, the government is looking to ensure that the UK gets a “new, comprehensive, free trade agreement, giving us the best possible access to the European single market” which also includes “the right access to European aviation markets”.
Mr Ahmad said: “It’s in the interests of the UK, the EU, European countries, and everyone who lives or travels between them, to seek a liberal arrangement for aviation.
So that you can continue to offer passengers a wide choice of destinations.
And so Britain can continue to do business with our European neighbours – and vice versa.”
Although he did concede that “Of course, the final outcome will have to await the conclusion of negotiations”
For the aviation secure, concern primarily revolves around access to the single European aviation market, and the disruption that could occur if the government carries out its threats of a “hard” Brexit.
As the first European aerospace economy, the UK is a major employer in the sector and a major exporter of aerospace parts and fittings. However, the UK’s aviation business is also huge. Recent reports from Deloitte cited figures from the CAA which show the UK is one of the biggest aviation markets in the world, with our airports carrying 200 million passengers every single year.
It's become clear, however, that the government are excited for the potential to look beyond their European neighbours to forge and develop new commercial and collaboration agreements with countries further afield.
In particular, Lord Ahmad said that new horizons in China and India meant that the industry within the UK could continue to grow and thrive outside of the EU, once again saying that the government will do all it can to support growth and/or offer alternative access to vital markets.
The Engineer notes that the University of Nottingham have long exploited the potential for collaboration in Asia, having engaged in the area for over a decade. In aerospace, they have forged collaborations with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and have further interests in the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). All of which points to a brighter future.
Further attention was paid in the speech to the task of modernising the use of the UK’s airspace. He pointed towards the fact that though aircraft are now fitted with the latest satellite navigation technology, the majority of airspace arrangements are over 50 years old now. Without action, he said, flight delays would continue to increase “enormously” over the next few fears.