By Maximilian Clarke

The UK's aviation industry is crucial in ensuring stable economic growth, the Institute of Directors has said.

In its response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Developing a Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation’, the IoD surveyed 1,245 of its members, revealing a widespread lack of confidence in the state of the UK's aviation infrastructure.

“Aviation is vital to UK trade and investment, but we are already falling behind our competitors in Europe," said Simon Walker, IoD Director General. "We urge the Government to be bold when drawing up its final framework, and to consider such ideas as a new hub airport in the Thames estuary, as suggested by the Mayor of London — if it can be done in Hong Kong, there is no reason why it can’t be done here.

“More important than anything else is that the Government makes its decision quickly. The IoD would like to see concrete proposals for more capacity in specific locations, and when proposals come forward they should be dealt with in no longer than 12 months. We cannot have another debacle like Terminal 5, were it took eight years for a decision to be made.”

The key findings of the survey include:
• 40% of IoD members believe that airport capacity expansion (through new runways or mixed-mode runway use) in London and the South East would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business, compared with just 4% who think it would have a negative impact. 51% of IoD members in the London and South regions believe it would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business.

• 48% of IoD members believe that airport capacity expansion outside of London and the South East would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business, including 94% of IoD members in Northern Ireland. Only 2% believe it would have a negative impact on their productivity.
Other key points in the consultation response include:

• While measures such as the EU’s Single European Sky initiative and making better use of our continental rail links should be pursued, there is no substitute for capacity increases as soon as possible.

• UK aviation taxes are much higher than in continental countries, distorting the market by encouraging indirect, rather that direct flights, from London to destinations further afield, via airports such as Frankfurt and Paris.

• Above all, businesses would like to see firmer and faster decisions. The IoD would like to see the aviation framework include a National Policy Statement for aviation, with concrete proposals for capacity enhancements in specific locations. It is also vital that the timetable of one year from the acceptance of a planning application to a final decision is adhered to in the aviation field.


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