To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has had discussions with the Department for Transport on increasing the number of air freight transport routes in operation to minimise delays to the import of medical supplies.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
28 April 2020
The Government has announced a range of measures to assist industry and companies are able to draw on this unprecedented package of economic measures. These measures have been designed to ensure that companies of any size, including airports, airlines and the wider supply chain, receive the help they need to get through this difficult time.
The Government recognises that air freight plays an important role in supply chains and the importance that essential goods can continue to be brought into and out of the United Kingdom without disruption. COVID-19 presents unique risks to the movement of goods.
Because of this, the Department for Transport is working with different sectors to help ensure that essential goods can continue to be transported into the UK. This includes working closely with the aviation sector to support it to ensure there is sufficient capacity to protect global travel routes, continue freight and maintain vital connectivity.
The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with the Department for Transport, other Government Departments and industry to feed into this ongoing work as well as monitor the impact of COVID-19 on medical supply chains and manage identified risks. For example, the Department of Health and Social Care has mobilised an Express Freight Service to support the continuity of supply of medicines and medical products and ensure the continued prioritisation of critical products.
This is complemented by the current work of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority. The Civil Aviation Authority oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom and is engaging airlines and airports to provide flexibility within the regulatory framework to help manage and mitigate COVID-19 impacts where appropriate. The Competition and Markets Authority, which has launched a COVID-19 pandemic taskforce to identify harmful pricing practices is advising the Government on the means of ensuring markets operate as well as possible.