The GTMC, the most influential travel management business community in the UK, has reacted to the publication of the summary of submissions received by the Airports Commission on the subject of making the best use of existing capacity in the South East, by reaffirming its position on short term capacity increase as soon as possible.
The GTMC focused its submission on Heathrow and the soonest possible increase in air capacity and connectivity whilst reinforcing that longer term boosts to capacity are vital but will take considerable time to come online. Heathrow’s plan, if given the green light, could not be delivered before 2023 with proposals for Stansted and a new airport not deliverable until 2032 and 2034 respectively. The GTMC believes that relieving capacity constraints in the short term is critical to the UK economy’s growth through ensuring greater direct connectivity with merging markets.
GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: “ The GTMC submission to the Airports Commission focused on the quickest possible solution to increasing air capacity in the South East and we will build on our submission, taking into consideration other proposals for the interim report due at the end of the year.”
The GTMC submission called for the protection of existing night flight capacity at Heathrow and the introduction of Mixed Mode at Heathrow and its recognition as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project by the Government. In addition the GTMC asked the Secretary of State for Transport to undertake all required measures to ensure Mixed Mode is not subject to delaying tactics by opponents and The Secretary of State for Transport to lead efforts to ensure the right balance between additional routes and resilience from any additional capacity released at Heathrow.
GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: “Our members work on behalf of corporates to facilitate the international movements of the business people who ‘do the deals’ that will underpin the UK economy’s growth and as such we have a keen sense of the priorities for corporates in terms of connectivity; and the perspective of those business people actually travelling internationally. This insight combined with the data collected from the GTMC’s bespoke ‘Voice of The Business Traveller’ survey gave us the ability to complete a submission to the Airports Commission on behalf of the business traveller.”
The GTMC survey was of 1010 people who travelled internationally six or more times per year on business from airports in the South East of England, 37% of which travelled thirteen times or more.
The GTMC submission is supported by the fact that of the UKs top 300 businesses the majority have HQs within a 25 mile radius of the UK’s major hub airport and the area around Heathrow outstrips the UK average in terms of foreign business locations – there are 100% more US companies and 260% more Japanese. Business travelers themselves also reflected the preference for additional capacity at Heathrow with 82% surveyed saying that additional capacity at Heathrow would benefit their business more than at any other airport.
In their submission the GTMC estimates that using both runways for take-off and landing (mixed mode) would add an additional 50,000 flights per annum, equating to around 65 additional flights per day during normal operating hours. The recommendation is backed up by the survey response of 62% showing support for Mixed Mode.
In addition the GTMC believes that there should be no movement by authorities to lessen the amount of night flights currently allowed during the 11pm – 7am period. Business travelers surveyed by the GTMC showed that night flights are a key component of international business with 49% saying that they had used night flights more than three times a year.
Paul Wait said: “The GTMC calls on the government to hold the line on night flights and recognize that they are a vital artery of connectivity to both emerging and traditional markets.”
Paul Wait concluded: “Short-term measures are within the Government’s gift and we call on the Secretary of State for Transport to lead efforts to release capacity but also to ensure that the right balance is struck between capacity to be used for new routes and retained for resilience.”