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uk aviation

Project

runway The UK's aviation landscape could be shaped for decades by imminent government decisions, says Rob Gill

T

he next 12 months could be truly pivotal for the UK’s airport sector, with the impending final decision on Heathrow’s third runway and also crucial negotiations about how the aviation sector will operate following Brexit. If that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, there’s the government’s new wide-ranging aviation strategy report that aims to set out the future for the sector up to 2050.

Runway rundown

The most pressing issue is airport expansion in the South East – the government backs Heathrow’s third runway but the project still needs to get the approval of the House of Commons. A vote is due to take place imminently (by the end of June, according to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling) and it’s by no means a foregone conclusion with vocal opponents to Heathrow expansion such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. It is possible, or in fact likely, according to some sources, that the ultimate verdict will be pushed back until after the UK's post-Brexit position is clearer. While it waits for a final decision, Heathrow is ploughing on with preparations for a new runway. The airport says it cut £2.5billion off the cost of the project – taking it down to a mere £14billion – by extending existing terminals instead of building a new facility. 22

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has been busy selling the benefits of the third runway as a way of increasing connectivity from UK regional airports and has suggested that airports such as Newquay, Liverpool and Humberside could be in line for routes to the UK hub airport if expansion goes ahead. “Without expansion what we’re likely to see is a continual reduction in regional and UK domestic routes as they are replaced by long-haul,” he warns. “We have to make sure all of the UK benefits from increased connectivity. It’s important not just for London but the whole of the UK.” Holland-Kaye adds that a new runway will also allow the introduction of “more routes to secondary cities in China and the Americas than we would have without expansion”. Gatwick has not given up hope of being allowed to build a second runway, insisting that it is “ready to deliver” on expansion should Heathrow’s third runway run into political problems. Gatwick has also been looking at how to make more of its existing facilities, such as potentially using its emergency runway to boost capacity. The airport is also pressing its case by emphasising growth in long-haul routes, particularly across the Atlantic, where passenger numbers rose by 19% to 3.4 million for the 12 months to the end of March 2018.

The future of Manchester Airport

CEO Stewart Wingate says: “Gatwick is playing an increasingly important role for the country on the world stage, providing global connectivity at a time when the UK really needs it. We have exciting plans for growth at the airport, maximising the use of our existing facilities while continuing to offer the country the prospect of a financeable and deliverable new runway scheme.”

Leaving the club

How UK aviation will continue to operate when the country leaves the European Union has been one of the biggest questions hanging over the travel industry since the referendum in 2016. While most in the industry – with the notable exception of Ryanair – have chosen to play down fears that flights could be grounded from March 2019 onwards, the situation is a long way from being resolved. A positive step forward has been the agreement between the UK government and the EU on having an “implementation” or transitional period running from March 2019

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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5/30/18 12:35 PM

The Business Travel Magazine June/July 2018  

The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...

The Business Travel Magazine June/July 2018  

The multi-award-winning publication written and produced for bookers, buyers, arrangers and managers of business travel and meetings. This i...