London Stansted’s new chief executive, Ken O’Toole, has called on the government to put in place a national aviation strategy that not only supports airports to grow but ensures the spare capacity available today is used to generate the biggest positive impact for consumers and the economy.
Speaking to a 500-strong audience of infrastructure experts at the London Infrastructure Summit, O’Toole said a lot more can be done to improve the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world to ensure it succeeds as an outward-facing trading nation as the country prepares to leave the EU and at a time when airport capacity is at a premium.
He added: “The UK is going to need the aviation industry to be at the top of its game over the next ten-15 years to build a prosperous and global Britain.
“First and foremost, we need to ensure that we make the most productive and efficient use of the capacity we have already.
“We will shortly be applying to raise our planning cap so that we can make full use of our runway.
“Securing that approval would enable Stansted to meet 50 per cent of London’s expected passenger growth over the next decade, double our economic output to £2 billion and create thousands of new jobs.”
O’Toole also reiterated industry calls for the reform of air passenger duty.
He stated that the UK has the highest rates of aviation taxation of any developed nation, by some margin, which inhibits demand and affects the ability to compete against EU and global competitors for airline capacity.
O’Toole went on to stress the importance of rail and road connectivity:
He concluded: “If we are serious about getting the most from our airports, joined up thinking on road, rail and aviation policies should be a priority for government.
“In the case of Stansted, a key priority is creating the best possible rail links from the airport to London and Cambridge.
“Faster journey times will not only expand our reach but also, and most importantly, strengthen our ability to attract the increasing number of long-haul airlines that wish to serve London.
“Stansted offers the ‘primary growth opportunity’ in the south over the next 15 years and businesses and passengers will reap the benefits with increased global connectivity, trade opportunities and more choice.”