25 NOVEMBER 2013

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Article from BTNews 25 NOVEMBER 2013

COMMENT: Gatwick leads so says those that claim to know

Two events took place last Tuesday (19 November) which helped once again to focus on the struggle that the air transport industry has in persuading the government of its importance.

In the morning “Let Britain Fly” was launched, a campaign aimed at pressurising MPs to avert the UK’s looming air capacity crunch.

Leaders from more than 100 of Britain’s top companies called on all major parties to include a commitment to tackle the problem in their manifestos for the 2015 General Election, and to commit to implementing the findings of the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies.  Gavin Hayes, Campaign Director, will articulate further in next week’s monthly ON THE SOAPBOX.

Later in the day it was the respected lobby firm Insight Public Affairs hosting a gathering at The Ideas Space, Storey's Gate, Westminster, to hear a representative panel discuss the future in what was termed “The Aviation Debate”.

Kwasi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne, very much in the Heathrow (staff) catchment area supports expansion for the airport but thinks it will not come about.  He pointed out that if politicians want something to happen, it happens, emphasising the fourth runway at Frankfurt.  He believes discussion is academic until post the next general election.

Nigel Milton, Director of Policy and Political Relations, Heathrow Airport, said that the hub idea was the only one that worked, and was clearly miffed that the word, hub that is, has been appropriated by an independent pressure group.  He ruled out their idea for a four-runway airport, the Jock Lowe scheme (see BTN 18 November), as being too noisy.

Tim Hawkins, Director Corporate Affairs M.A.G, owners of Stansted Airport, noted that the rail access problem needed to be overcome at his airport and hoped that a Liverpool Street to airport time of under 40 minutes was two years away.

Gatwick was not represented at all but would have been delighted to hear what Councillor Daniel Moylan, Aviation Advisor to the Mayor of London, had to say.

Whilst not backing down in any way regarding an entirely new airport in the Thames Estuary, and questioning both the overall cost and funding of the Gatwick and Heathrow schemes, he said that it was perfectly possible that the Davies Commission would rule out an estuary option in its December report – in his view, if that happened, the inevitable outcome of Sir Howard Davies Airport Commission was a second runway for Gatwick.

The South London airport was not around to smile.  That was to be regretted.

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