bmi, the UK’s second largest full service airline, today welcomed the Government’s long-awaited publication of Regional Capacity Studies which deal with how to cope with rising public demand for air travel and where additional airport facilities might be built. The studies are the next step towards the forthcoming Aviation White Paper, which will look 30 years ahead.
bmi has operated out of London Heathrow for thirty three years and has seen it become the world’s most important international airport, boosting inward investment to the UK and helping to maintain London’s place as a world city which attracts 65% of the world’s 500 largest companies. The airline fears that, if growth is stunted or delayed by a repeat performance of the Terminal 5 approval process, European airports such as Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt will overtake Heathrow as the European leader.
bmi believes that the publication of the Studies demonstrate the Government’s willingness to address issues concerning capacity, which are vital to business, economic growth and tourism. The Government has a unique once in a generation opportunity to support the UK aviation industry through the forthcoming White Paper and bmi hopes that such foresight will also be extended to reform of the restrictive Bermuda II Bilateral and UK-US aviation relations.
Sir Michael Bishop, chairman of bmi british midland commented: `If capacity is restricted, people will be priced out of the market, which would be both ineffective and unfair. Flying is not just for the privileged few any more. Long term decisions need to be made. It is not a question of if the Government needs to increase airport capacity, it’s a case of when. We must ensure, however, that any decisions made balance the needs of passengers, the economy, society and the environment. Failure to provide extra capacity will lead to more delays, higher prices, less choice and will damage business and jobs.
“A no-growth solution is simply sticking our heads in the sand. Delays would increase, as would the cost to airlines, ultimately forcing us to increase prices for the consumer and making air travel less accessible to the wider public.
“The Government must however tackle two issues, the lack of capacity and the lack of competition on routes from Heathrow to the US. The Government now has the opportunity to tackle both of these and failure to make the tough decisions on either would not be in the interests of UK consumers or fair competition. bmi is committed to ensuring that we continue to be a premier offering from London Heathrow, we aim to bring real network competition choices to all people travelling from and to the UK.”
bmi also believes capacity at UK airports should be increased in a sustainable way by strategic long term planning without compromising the high standards of safety and security that the UK aviation industry currently enjoys.
Heathrow Airport has become the world’s most important international airport by providing a mix of interline traffic with good connections to destinations around the globe, whilst providing short-haul services to regional points across the UK and to the Continent. Maintaining such a mix of traffic and ensuring that sufficient infrastructure is in place to allow for future growth, by both increasing runway and terminal capacity and good reliable surface links, is essential if this vital economic tool is to be allowed to develop further for the good of the UK and the travelling public.