The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), representing 86 airlines, has expressed its surprise and dismay at proposals to impose emergency timetables on airlines as a means to handle extreme weather or exceptional situations.
The idea was aired by BAA’s CEO, Colin Matthews at last week’s hearing of the Transport Select Committee. The concept was again referred to by Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Philip Hammond, during his address to the same Committee on Monday.
Mike Carrivick, Chief Executive of BAR UK said “The idea to impose emergency airline timetables appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to take the heat off the airport operator during the enquiry into the December snow crisis and has not even been discussed with the airlines”. He added “Airlines and passengers were heeding the advice given out by the airport only to find that facts and timings kept changing, which led to passengers continuing to arrive at the airport with nowhere to go. An emergency timetable would not have worked, since the airport operator had simply no idea what would open and when. So, why should they be in a position to dictate schedules to individual airlines when they can’t get their own act together?”
BAR UK recognises the fact that capacity is always restricted during extreme events. However, only the airlines are fully aware of the required information to make the most effective scheduling decisions such as aircraft and crew availability and passenger loads. The airport must provide airlines with accurate information.
Carrivick went on to say “‘It would be very perverse if the airport operator, responsible for the mismanaged airport closures in December, was arbiter of who could or could not fly. Let’s keep to the established system of the airlines setting the timetables and the airport operators efficiently managing operations.”