15 NOVEMBER 2021


© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.

Article from BTNews 15 NOVEMBER 2021


An attack yesterday (14 November) by The Sunday Times against light aviation (General Aviation – GA) has been strongly rebutted, a Government source telling the Press Association that the claims were “utterly bogus and demonstrably false”.

There seems to be a big business lobbying effort to close airfields for industrial and housing development.  Coventry Airport gains a mention.

Written by Gabriel Pogrund and Emanuele Midolo, the newspaper mentions that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, has a Private Pilot Licence and has always supported GA, but the tone of the piece and the terminology used is over the top.  It accuses the minister of devoting more time to what it calls “amateur flying” than his duties as a very visible cabinet minister.

The Sunday Times feature, which covers four pages, uses terms that are clearly the writer’s opinion such as “his favourite magazine” and being rewarded “with a plum post”.  The article also suggested Shapps’ flying hobby had “undermined” Government efforts to repatriate Britons after the collapse of travel agent Thomas Cook in 2019, and had taken up “valuable time” while the Department for Transport (DfT) dealt with post-Brexit and coronavirus travel disruption.

The Government provided a statement from John Holland-Kaye, the Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport. He said: “The biggest thing aviation has needed in the last 18 months is to get borders open safely again and Grant Shapps has worked tirelessly to deliver this.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “It is right that the Transport Secretary works to promote all aspects of the department’s brief including the general aviation sector, which contributes £4 billion to the economy and supports 40,000 jobs, especially as we focus on our recovery from the pandemic and on building a diverse workforce that’s fit for the future.”

Is Grant Shapps fit for purpose? He is a private pilot, a commuter, driver and a cyclist.  He has made mistakes, but so have all of us. He’s certainly got the credentials to be a hands-on Transport Minister.  Fly on!


See Coventry Airport saga in BTN 11 October.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

JOHN REEVE, United Kingdom

This is undoubtedly the latest attempt by the developers wishing to close Coventry Airport and buld on it to "dilute" and "devalue" the objection lodged by the Civil Aviation Authority to their planning application, due to be heard by Warwick District Council. The way GA airfields are being pillaged by these "Fat Cats" reminds me of Dr Beeching's closure of much of the UK railway network, only to have much of it ressurected, at great cost, 60 odd years later. This time, however, it is greedy developers doing!

Barry Wheeler, United Kingdom

Should Grant Schapps be vilified because he is a private pilot? Support for this part of the UK's aviation field is important, not least because this is where future pilots come from to enter commercial aviation and fly for UK-based airlines.

Chris Pocock, Uxbridge

Hmmm. I have carefully read the article. The authors obviously got inside help from someone in the DfT who doesn't like Shapps. And there are five unidentified sources. However, there's a weight of evidence in the article to suggest that Shapps has unwisely lobbied for general aviation. A lack of judgement, but not a resigning matter.

John Davidson, France

Isn't that "antepenultimate"? In Greek it was.

Jeff Singer, Hornsey London

Having read the Sunday Times and then searched the web, it seems that all the newspapers are regurgitating the story without proper research. Poor journalism.

Jacob Smith, Brighton

Shapps could not save Panshanger. It seems to me that powerful voices are about trying to clip his wings.

John Jones, West Ham

Congratulations to Qatar Airways. They have scooped the pool, first with the World Cup and now the pre-penultimate F1 race. In the middle of the desert too!