25 OCTOBER 2010

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Article from BTNews 25 OCTOBER 2010

COMMENT: The Government and the spending review

On the face of it the non-appearance of air transport in the Chancellor’s spending review looked like a complete oversight by the Government on this most essential part of the UK’s total commercial operation.  We have fought ever since World War II to be a leading nation air transport wise.  This position we do not want to throw away.  The huge increase in APD next weekend might be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

The current Secretary of State for Transport, Phillip Hammond, remains largely invisible on airline matters, strange as his constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge is very much in the Heathrow employment area.

Yet is this lack of visibility a bad thing?

Does the Prime Minister want to make the mistake he clearly made in rushing through the cancellation of Heathrow’s third runway (which had met all the regulatory procedures) whilst promoting High Speed railway (HS2), a very worthwhile concept, but one that has enormous problems vested in it, both from a cost point of view, and regarding planning?

Heathrow T6, like Stansted from an earlier political deal, would have cost the Government nothing.  HS2 and its successors is a financial disaster waiting to happen.  Which scheme is better for UK Ltd?  You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to work it out.

Let us hope that now with the pressure off in terms of meeting a 20 October deadline from the Treasury, Government can really assess just where it sits in terms of the commercial aviation scenario.

Let us hope that the coalition can come up with a practical air transport policy that is really forward thinking and will allow the British airline industry to retain its top position in the international marketplace, a position that it has great danger in forfeiting due to a lack of political foresight.

The Government has given itself a breathing space.  Let us hope it will use it wisely.

Malcolm Ginsberg
Editor in Chief

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