By Maximilian Clarke

The government must act now to develop an aviation policy that supports business growth and job creation, a report by a leading business organisation has said.

Entitled “Flying in the Face of Jobs and Growth”, the report by the British Chambers of Commerce urges government to improve the UK‘s aviation infrastructure by building new runways; boosting capacity at hub airports; and scrapping Air Passenger Duty, or risk missing out on much needed GDP boosts and job creation.

Aviation, observes the BCC, not only allows businesses to deliver high-value goods, move employees, and link to new markets. Some 40% (by value) of the UK’s exports go by air; good connectivity is vital to attracting inward investment, and driving growth in tourism. If businesses are to deliver sustained economic growth, then we need a long-term plan to improve the UK’s aviation infrastructure.

“With public finances straitened and consumer spending depressed, all eyes are on the private sector to blaze a trail back to prosperity,” commented BCC Director General, John Longworth. “The onus is on creating a strong, rebalanced economy, powered by exports of goods and services. All modes of transport serve business, but it is air transport that businesses rely on to get their employees and goods quickly to distant markets.

"Identifying the link between air travel and economic performance is easy. What’s harder is to convince the government of the need for a clear plan to ensure aviation can play its full part in ensuring economic recovery."

Current aviation capacity, the BCC warn, will not cope with the projected 335 million passengers at UK airports expected by 2030. The government must increase both the range and frequency of flights, ensure there is sufficient airport and airspace capacity and keep air transport prices competitive.

In other European countries, expanded hub airports, such as Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Frankfurt International, are increasing the potential for investment and economic competitiveness. The UK requires both an expanded hub airport and greater regional connectivity to remain competitive.

For example, an additional runway at Heathrow would address the capacity issue and ensure the UK has a hub airport that can compete with other countries. Heathrow has fallen behind its rivals in serving the growing BRIC economies. Paris and Frankfurt already boast 1000 more annual flights to the three largest cities in China than Heathrow.

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