The travel industry is guilty of a knee-jerk reaction to demands to rein in growth because of climate change.
Instead, the industry should learn from other sectors and adapt, says Cooperative Group environment manager Chris Shearlock, who is proud of Cooperative Travel’s decision to oppose a third runway at Heathrow.
Shearlock said: “Travel is getting negative publicity for the first time as it is exposed to environmental concerns.
“It should learn from the power, chemical and food industries which have had to get used to criticism.”
That means avoiding “knee-jerk” arguments in defence of the industry, he says.
“You can fight back as the aviation industry is doing or you can try to shape events,” said Shearlock.
“Airlines are trying to avoid facing up to [the implications of] projected growth. But it is technically and scientifically incorrect to say aviation growth is not a problem. It is a problem, and we want to do something about it.”
Shearlock said he has no idea how the government squares projections of massive cuts in emissions with its policy of expanding airports to handle a doubling in passengers by 2030.
ABTA repeated its support for a third Heathrow runway this week, providing restrictions on air quality and noise are met.
Trade relations manager Susan Parsons said: “We support a third runway. The airport needs more runway capacity to improve efficiency.”
That puts the association in line with government thinking, but in opposition to at least two of its own board members.
Cooperative Travel managing director Mike Greenacre is a board member, as is Sunvil Holidays managing director Noel Josephides who expressed support for Cooperative Travel’s stand last week.
Josephides revealed a survey of Association of Independent Tour Operator members found 50% oppose Heathrow expansion.