Could 'Jet Zero' deliver UK aerospace growth?

29 June 2022

Mark Nisbett, partner and head of aerospace and defence at RSM UK, comments: ‘As orders for aircrafts slowed in May 2022, deliveries increased by 22% in comparison to May 2021, indicating that the industry is gaining confidence and working through the pandemic backlog, despite staff shortages and supply chain disruption.

‘While a slight increase in backlog aircraft orders at 13,036 (+2%) worth up to £198bn to the UK aerospace industry demonstrates that demand is returning, major challenges remain for the aerospace sector. With the increase in demand driven by increased consumer confidence, the massive environmental pressures on the industry and the knock-on effect of many highly skilled staff leaving as production levels ceased during the pandemic, employers now need to attract, retrain and retain new and existing staff.

‘Although confidence in travel is growing, the demand for narrow-body aircraft is recovering faster than wide-body aircraft as the domestic demand is returning to pre-pandemic levels earlier than the international passenger demand. However, the 24% uplift in orders for wide-body aircraft from April 2022 is encouraging, indicating that consumers are starting to travel further overseas.

‘Looking ahead, the Farnborough International Airshow returns for the first time in three years in July and will help reconnect aerospace and aviation businesses from around the world to navigate these economic headwinds and industry challenges. Furthermore, with sector-wide focus on accelerating transition to sustainable travel, could ‘Jet Zero’ and advances in Sustainable Aviation Fuel present a real area of growth for the sector? If so, why is the government overlooking its potential to attract key investment and generate high skilled jobs whilst delivering a ‘first mover advantage’ to put the UK on the map as an early adopter? The industry is calling for urgent decisions on policy and required legislation to unlock investment and commit to decarbonising the aviation industry; but it will be interesting to see how the Government responds to ensure the UK can lead on this vital issue.