10 Apr 2012
Action needed on long-term aviation policy
The Government must decide on a plan for the future of the UK’s aviation policy, business leaders have said. The CBI argued last week that it is important for the Government to make the right decision, “as the UK does two-times more trade with countries it has direct air links to”. The call for action came as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Birmingham Airport to learn what the new runway extension will mean for businesses in the area. Mr Clegg, who was accompanied by Solihull MP Lorely Burt and Birmingham Council Group leader Paul Tilsley, heard how the airport could double its passenger numbers.
Paul Kehoe, the CEO of Birmingham Airport, said: “We believe that the Government should take a lead in examining what the long-term aviation solution for UK plc actually is. This is an issue of economic development, and the outcome will have a significant impact on the nature and distribution of the UK economy for decades to come.”
Calling for a firm plan within 18 months, the CBI wants the Government to take urgent decisions on: maximising capacity at all UK airports; allowing more-flexible use of the two runways at Heathrow; building a new runway to serve southern England at one of the existing airports; and allowing expansion at regional airports.
CBI director general John Cridland said: “Our proposals for the future of aviation in the UK will help us to tackle rising demand in the short, medium and long term across the country. This is not an ‘either/or’; we need to act now to remain a world-class business destination and boost our trade with emerging economies.”
He said that, in order to achieve the Government’s stated aim of doubling annual exports by 2020, the UK had to improve its connections with fast-growing markets such as China, India and South America. “This means providing the capacity for airlines to put on new flights. Right now, our major airports are losing out to other European destinations.
“More of our regional UK cities are connected by air to Amsterdam than to Heathrow, and we have no links at all with many of China’s major cities. Businesses don’t want the UK’s main aviation hub to be Schiphol or Frankfurt.”