BA Urges Government to act on Airport Capacity

BRITISH AIRWAYS (BA) has called on the Government to address urgently the lack of new hub airport capacity in the Southeast of England.
Responding to the Government’s “Developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation” consultation, the airline warned that in order to support the UK economy there must be additional aviation capacity to meet growing demand for global connectivity.
In its submission, the airline argues that aviation supports more than 900,000 jobs in the UK and provides vital transport links for businesses across the country.  BA says that while London has developed one of the world’s best and most extensive networks of international air services, it is in danger of stagnating and falling behind competitors due to lack of new hub capacity.
The airline’s Chief Executive, Keith Williams, said: “The Government must take action now. There are no easy choices, but avoiding these choices is to undermine the UK aviation and aerospace industry and to hinder the economic recovery.”
He added: “We are already falling behind other European hubs in providing services to the booming markets of China and India.  This will only continue unless the Government commits to allowing sustainable growth.
“The UK Government has a choice.  It can pursue sustainable growth, or simply manage a steady decline.”
BA points out that while the number of direct services to China has stalled at Heathrow, rival hubs in Europe have continued to add services.  There are now 21 emerging market destinations with daily flights from other European hubs that are not served from Heathrow.  As a result the airline believes that UK passengers are increasingly being forced to transfer through alternative hubs such as Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam – and says that this is effectively outsourcing the UK’s air transport needs.
The airline’s submission also dismissed plans for a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow, and the creation of a “virtual hub”.  It argues that both airports currently operate at full capacity, and the logistical challenges would prove insurmountable.
BA says that it is convinced that aviation in the UK can continue to grow, while meeting its environmental obligations.  The industry has already realised significant environmental performance improvement and will continue to do so through measures such as the EU emissions trading scheme.  The airline is committed to achieving its target of a 50% reduction in net carbon emissions by 2050.
Furthermore, the airline argues that limiting capacity in the UK will not lead to a reduction in global carbon emissions, stating that: “demand will simply be displaced to hubs in other countries, while marginalising the UK”.