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Government positivity for the aviation sector

Richard Dilks, Programme Director, Transport

Last week we were delighted to have the new Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg CBE, at a member briefing kindly hosted by Allen & Overy.

We and members were left feeling positive that the Government is poised to take the crucial next steps on Heathrow expansion of laying its National Policy Statement before Parliament, and then holding a vote on it. Both of these we expect in coming weeks, before Recess starts on 24th July. If this does not happen, we will rapidly mobilise to show our dismay.

Baroness Sugg also spoke encouragingly of Government’s recognition of the vitality and dynamism of aviation in the South East, referencing the fact that more passengers use London airports than any other city worldwide. She emphasised the need for further improvements to surface access, including a recognition that the Department for Transport has not always listened as hard as it should on this; modernise our airspace; and further improve our border operations.

This is all music to our ears, and agrees strongly with our 2017 report No Time To Waste.

Nonetheless, the tests will be what the Government actually achieves or facilitates. Its in-development Aviation Strategy is the mechanism for this and we will continue to exert influence over this. In particular we will be pressing the case that we must make the most of the capacity we already have at London and South East airports – including but not limited to lifting artificial barriers such as passenger number caps.

The entirely welcome expansion at Heathrow will not be with us for most of a decade. So we must make the most of what we have in the meantime; and in the longer term, one extra runway after over half a century’s debate will not meet the ongoing needs of London, the South East or the UK.

For now our immediate focus remains on supporting Heathrow expansion. We are bringing together a Parliamentary reception in support of it with the Transport Secretary and Aviation Minister on 11th June and we will be in touch on this soon.

For further details contact Richard Dilks.

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