The Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, has announced that Byron Davies will be the Government’s first ever General Aviation Champion. Mr Grayling made the announcement at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on General Aviation Christmas Reception on the Terrace of the House of Commons.
The Reception was by over 80 members of the General Aviation community as well as Members of Parliament and Lords, and rounded off an successful first year for the all-party group which was established in February.
The Secretary of State’s announcement at the Reception was welcomed Grant Shapps MP, Chair of the All-Party Group, welcomed the appointment as a sign that Government is at last giving General Aviation and the serious issues facing the sector the attention they deserve. Byron Davies was the first Chair of the all-party group prior to the June 2017 General Election, following which Grant Shapps MP took over as Chair. Since then, the group’s membership has expanded to an impressive 112 parliamentarians, including 9 former Cabinet ministers, 3 former Transport ministers, 15 privy councillors and one current party leader.
Mr Grayling said: “I believe that General Aviation has a significant contribution to make to the UK economy, and I am determined that we do not lose these benefits. I am delighted to announce that Byron will be coming into the Department for Transport as the General Aviation Champion, to lead our work on defining a strategic network of airfields and what protective measures would best secure this network.”
Grant Shapps MP, Chair of the All-Party Group, said: “General Aviation is the glue that binds the entire aviation sector together. And for the very first time, we are being listened to in Government. I’m delighted that the Department for Transport not only understands that it is the sponsoring department for General Aviation, but is doing something practical to help with the appointment of Byron Davies as the first ever General Aviation Champion.
The all-party group looks forward to working closely with Byron over the coming months to protect our General Aviation airfields for future generations to enjoy.”
In a speech at the House of Commons event, Grant Shapps also said: “Let me be blunt. Unless we persuade the government to change its policies in order to protect airfields; unless we can convince ministers to create a fairer system of taxation on pilot training and on aviation gas; and unless we can organise our airspace so that all aviators can prosper…Then the game is up. And the future of aviation – whether military, defence or commercial – is all put at serious risk.
Unlike the railways or the roads, General Aviation doesn’t receive subsidy from the taxpayer. Unlike when you pay your tax on petrol and receive some of it back through the road infrastructure being maintained, when it comes to paying your tax on AVGAS, you don’t get a penny back in improving anything for aviation.
So we are a self-reliant sector, making few demands on government. Just getting on with it and supporting aviation more widely.
But now we do need ministerial help. We need the airfield network protected. We need airspace properly thought through. And we need to a level playing field, or perhaps a level runway, when it comes to tax and regulation.
And, for the very first time, we are being listened to within Government. Some departments are gripping it faster than others. But I’m delighted to say that for the first time, the Department for Transport (DfT) has begun to not only understand that it is the sponsoring department for General Aviation, but is also doing something practical to help.”