Airlines UK response to launch of consultations on airport development and airspace modernisation

February 2nd, 2017

Responding to the publication today of the Government’s draft Airports National Policy Statement along with a consultation on the modernisation of airspace, Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the trade body for UK airlines, said:

“We welcome today’s announcement and the launch of these two important consultations by the Department for Transport. We and our member airlines will study the draft National Policy Statement, together with the associated documents and reports, over the coming weeks. Our members are however clear that the cost of expansion that they and their customers pay for is a key factor. Heathrow is the most expensive hub airport in the world – and airports are not funded by the taxpayer, but by passengers. Therefore any new infrastructure must be cost effective and affordable. The price paid by customers should not increase and today’s passengers must not pay for capacity that will not be operational until the mid-2020s.

“In short, we need the right solution at the right price, at the right time, in order to meet the needs of customers.”  

Commenting on the airspace consultation, he continued:

“Airspace modernisation is a critical, but sometimes overlooked part of our national infrastructure. The UK’s airspace system was created over 50 years ago when there were just half a million planes in the sky. It was never designed for the record number of aircraft, around 2.4 million in 2015, which now travel through it. We know that airspace redesign can present major challenges for airports, and good community engagement will be a vital part of the process. That said, to ensure capacity can keep pace with demand, airspace modernisation is urgently required and, without it, delays faced by passengers are likely to soar to 4 million minutes by 2030. 

“However, airspace modernisation wouldn’t just increase capacity and help prevent such sustained delays. Flying more direct routes will also reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions, lessoning aviation’s impact on the climate and local air quality – and in the process seeing a substantial reduction in aviation emissions.

“We therefore welcome today’s consultation and will study the proposals in detail.”