Bill to help stranded passengers in Queen’s Speech

Boris Johnson’s government will introduce legislation to assist passengers when airlines go bankrupt in next week’s Queen’s Speech, which is expected to offer a “sneak peek” of the Conservative party’s next election manifesto.

The government will announce plans to allow collapsed airlines to be placed in “special administration”, allowing their planes to fly and bring passengers home. The legislation follows the recent collapse of Monarch and Thomas Cook, in which the government and the Civil Aviation Authority were responsible for repatriating passengers.

Under the proposals, which follow the government’s Airline Insolvency Review, regulators could make use of the troubled airline’s planes and crews to bring passengers home. Currently, other aircraft and crews are used in the event of an airline’s collapse.

The airline bankruptcy bill is one of several pieces of domestic legislation expected to be introduced in Monday’s speech, which will set out the Johnson government’s agenda. It is likely to focus on domestic priorities previously laid out by Mr Johnson, including the National Health Service, the police, education and the environment.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said the collapse of Thomas Cook, after which 140,000 passengers had to be brought home by the government, had demonstrated the “huge impact” of airline bankruptcy.

“I’m determined to bring in a better system to deal with similar situations in future, helping ensure passengers are protected and brought home quickly and safely,” he said. “I’ve personally spoken with Peter Bucks, the chair of the Airline Insolvency Review, and plan to draw on his expertise and bring in airline insolvency reforms as quickly as possible.”

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Monday’s speech, which will be delivered by the Queen in the House of Lords, has been written by a close-knit circle of officials in Downing Street, led by Munira Mirza, head of the policy unit. Those with knowledge of the address said that while it was expected to outline bills Mr Johnson intends to introduce to parliament, it would be focused on his platform for a general election, which is expected in the coming months.

“The Queen’s Speech will be an advance look at the manifesto, we’re obviously not going to blow out our best stuff before the election,” said one Whitehall official. “It is sensible stuff that is not too controversial.”

Other legislation set to feature in the speech includes a buildings regulation bill and a crime bill. Also expected is an employment bill that will set up a body with a mandate to stamp out workplace exploitation, replacing the Gangmasters’ and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC Minimum Wage.


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