22 OCTOBER 2012

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Article from BTNews 22 OCTOBER 2012

COMMENT Airports and all that

The UK Airport Operators Association (AOA) will this morning (Monday 22 October) host new Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin at its annual conference in London.

Mr McLoughlin, a former miner and reluctant flyer, just six weeks into the job, had better be on his toes in what will be his first major speech on aviation since taking up the portfolio. 

Will he take questions?  Justine Greening was on the platform last year.  Maria Eagles from the Labour opposition will once again offer her views.  We don’t expect any fireworks.  Mr McLoughlin, a Yorkshireman, will put a straight bat up with the standard comment that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a Treasury responsibility and as far as the airport situation is concerned all will be sorted with the Davies Commission!

The AOA has used the opportunity to reveal research carried out on its behalf by ComRes, the market research organisation.  It shows that three-quarters (73%) of UK business leaders believe that it is more important than ever that the Government supports the aviation industry to help deliver its growth and jobs agenda.  Over four in five of the British public (82%) think that APD should be cut or frozen in George Osborne’s forthcoming Autumn Statement.

The Conference will see the AOA – the voice of UK airports – launch its own initiative regarding aviation policy, in response to what it calls the Government’s failure to do so.  Highlighted is ‘A Lack of Direction in UK Aviation Policy’, a listing of dated announcements and policy statements since the Coalition came to power in May 2010.

Headed ‘An Integrated Framework for UK Aviation: Connecting the Economy for Jobs and Growth’ the paper sets out 25 key recommendations to Government which would boost aviation, and help bring about more jobs, business and economic growth to benefit the whole of UK Plc.  It runs to 36 pages.  Heavy reading yes, but let us hope that Downing Street, The Treasury, The Department for Trade and Industry, The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (responsible for Tourism) all read it.  Attendees at the conference will certainly be heads down.

AOA Chairman, Ed Anderson, sums it up: “Sadly, the Government’s draft Aviation Policy Framework is not an integrated aviation policy which will help boost our airports or the UK economy.  The Government has to realise that the aviation industry plays a major role in resolving the ongoing problem of growing the economy”.

Business Travel News agrees.  We have to get a move on.  Let us see what the Minister has to say.

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