In the latest ‘Adapt & Survive’ Skype video interview, TRBusiness speaks to Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the UK-based Airport Operators Association (AOA) about the future of air transport in the UK and what measures are being put in place now to allow airports and their affiliated partners to resume operations as quickly and as safely as possible.
Dee, who is a hugely influential figure in the UK aviation industry, also addressed Heathrow Airport’s proposal to test passengers’ temperatures upon normal resumption of flights, mooted by LHR CEO, John Holland-Kaye.
“When John was talking about temperature testing, this is just one measure of which there are a whole range that we think could help us. What we are clear about is that social distancing at an airport is just not going to be commercially viable. So what we are keen to explore with the government is what we do instead.”
She talked about the importance of creating a set of standards that apply – and are accepted – globally, which ensure the safety of passengers and airport staff once flights resume. “If the measures we put in place in the UK don’t reassure other countries [that the threat is being controlled], we won’t see those all important border restrictions lifted.”
Dee mentioned that the association is still seeking business rate relief – for some of those it represents – from the UK Government.
Commenting on the crucial role which the duty free & travel retail business plays in the UK’s aviation ecosystem, Dee said: “We have been very clear from the start that the reason why we have such a strong aviation industry in the UK is because we are very innovative and we’re dynamic and the reason we are able to remain this way is because of non-aeronautical businesses such as duty free.
“As airports we understand the integral role that all of these businesses play. Passengers also see it as very much part of the airport experience. Without these businesses being able to scale back up, we’re not going to see the kind of commercial arrangements that are going to be viable at airports around the UK. We work very closely with the UKTRF to see how we can support each other. All parts of the aviation ecosystem have to survive and be successful for us to serve the economy and fully function as an industry going forward.”
Adapt and Survive asks members of the travel retail industry community, often working from home, for their candid commentary on the constantly evolving Covid-19 pandemic.
The video series is a direct response to the industry’s critical need for direct, factual and analytical commentary and – in typical TRBusiness fashion – interprets clearly and concisely the challenges faced by travel retail during Covid-19.