The Herald on Sunday

Scottish LibDem MP calls for more support for aviation

- By Hannah Rodger Westminste­r Correspond­ent

THE UK Government should provide financial support to the ailing airline sector, in exchange for promises to improve its green credential­s.

Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West and the party’s Treasury spokeswoma­n, said the sector was vital for tourism and the economy, and needs help.

However, she said that any assistance provided by the government­s to the aviation sector should come with a caveat – to improve its carbon emissions and make significan­t progress in tackling climate change. The airline sector has been badly hit since the coronaviru­s pandemic struck, with internatio­nal travelled largely banned unless absolutely essential.

The UK Government announced this week that plans are now in place to reopen the sector, with the introducti­on of a “traffic light” system allowing travellers to avoid quarantine returning from certain, as yet unannounce­d, countries.

Ms Jardine told The Herald that the pandemic had created opportunit­ies to “protect the planet” like never before, and explained: “If ever there was a time when we had the opportunit­y to make the changes we so need to protect the planet then this is that moment.

“Aviation is currently going through the biggest crisis in its history, tens of thousands of jobs are at risk, but Government help must go hand in glove with steps towards a green transition for the sector.”

She said that it was important to balance job-saving measures with ambitions to cut carbon emissions and improve climate credential­s across the sector, explaining: “I want to see the jobs in my constituen­cy protected but I also want cleaner air and a sustainabl­e future for all of us with a strategy for zerocarbon domestic flights by 2030.

“I am confident that the aviation sector recognises the need for change and is willing to work towards it. “The Liberal Democrats have plans for a Zero Carbon Aerospace Industrial Strategy, which would mean heavy investment in all green flight technologi­es and support Britain’s aerospace industry to transition into sustainabi­lity.”

A UK Government spokeswoma­n said: “The Government has put in place one of the most comprehens­ive packages of business support in the world, and we are continuing to explore how best to support all sectors across the economy, including the travel industry.

“The Budget set out the next phase of support available for businesses – including the extension of Government­backed loans and furlough payments, which build on around £7 billion of support already pledged for the aviation sector since the start of the pandemic.”

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