ABTA – the Travel Association has submitted its formal response to the Transport Select Committee Inquiry into Aviation Strategy, emphasising the need for the Government to urgently develop a sustainable strategy for airport capacity.
One of the areas ABTA has stressed in its response is that the Government must not prioritise business traffic over leisure, for example by restricting leisure flights at busier airports. Any attempt to manipulate traffic from the Government would hamper the growth of the outbound sector, which directly accounts for 1.6% of UK GDP (£22 billion), as well as limit choice for UK citizens. ABTA believes it is vital that passengers must continue to be able to fly from the airport of their choice, which will likely be that closest to their home or business. The 2012 ABTA Consumer Survey* showed that 62% of passengers strongly favoured flying from their local airport and 50% of flyers do not want to travel more than one hour to their departure airport.
ABTA has also highlighted the importance of the Government holding a review on the impact of APD on the economy, and considering APD as part of the whole aviation policy framework.
Mark Tanzer, CEO ABTA said: “The airport capacity debate has been going on for too long whilst our European neighbours have been continuing to invest in their infrastructure. We urgently need swift and decisive action from the Government to put an end to the debate and move forward with plans to create the capacity we so desperately need. It is vital these plans take into account the needs of all types of aviation, whether it is cargo, business or leisure. We must at all costs avoid a situation where there is a hierarchy of importance for aviation.”
Some of the key points made in ABTA’s response are:
The need for the Government to urgently create a comprehensive strategy for aviation to drive growth and maximise the UK’s connectivity, particularly to burgeoning economies
The importance of that strategy having cross party support to ensure new capacity can be built quickly without political hold ups
The demand for extra capacity is particularly high in the South East and the UK risks losing passengers to European hubs if it cannot accommodate them in the region
To address capacity issues ABTA supports a third short runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick. We also support a runway extension at Birmingham and an additional new runway at either Edinburgh or Glasgow. We support other regional airports seeking to expand but not as a substitute for additional capacity in the South East
The need to strike a balance between the economic benefits of meeting demand and the needs of the industry, with the impact aviation has on local communities and the environment. It is essential that airports work in
harmony with the local communities around them
An independent impact assessment of the effects of APD on the economy must be included as part of the overall aviation strategy
Alongside capacity, the passenger experience on the ground must also be addressed by the Government, ensuring that passengers can easily access airports via public transport and can pass through immigration quickly.
*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to September 2012. Fieldwork was conducted in September 2012.