Responding to the publication of a new consultation on the revised draft Airports National Policy Statement and Government response to its recent consultation on airspace change, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry association that represents UK carriers, said:
“Airlines agree that an extra runway at Heathrow offers substantial economic and social advantages and that is why they have been consistent in their support. However, they are also clear that the cost of expansion that they and their customers will be asked to meet is a key factor. Heathrow is the most expensive airport in the world and passenger charges have trebled in the past decade. Carriers back expansion but on the strict condition that costs are kept under control, and we support the Secretary of State in his determination to keep charges as close as possible to current levels. We look forward to seeing the detail behind the Heathrow proposals, but we need the right solution at the right price, at the right time, in order to meet the needs of customers, and over time the aim should be for charges to come down as the number of movements increase.
“On domestic connectivity, we support the ambition of increasing the number of UK airports served by Heathrow but these are decisions that will be made by airlines, not Heathrow. It is carriers that make route decisions, based on commercial viability and market conditions, and these depend as much as anything on keeping costs down.
“On airspace, we wholly agree with the Government’s assessment that airspace modernisation is essential if we are to unlock some of the substantial environmental gains available with new aircraft technology, as well as meet future demand for air travel in the UK.
“Airlines recognise that these changes will require considered engagement with local communities and we endorse proposals – such as the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) – that will improve transparency and restore trust in the airspace change process.
“Airspace modernisation will enable airlines to operate more direct routes, producing less carbon and reducing noise. If we don’t modernise, delays will increase, causing huge problems in the future for our economy, environment and society.”