A group of high-profile UK business executives has written an open letter to the prime minister demanding a meeting about the government’s failure to establish a viable aviation strategy.
The letter, published in the national press on Tuesday, argues that the high level of aviation tax and decision not to build a third runway at Heathrow are restricting economic recovery.
The letter is signed by Simon Buck, chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, Mike Carrivick, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives, Ian Livingstone, international managing director, London and Regional Properties, Brigid Simmonds, chairman of Tourism Alliance, and Travel Weekly Group chairman Clive Jacobs.
Businessmen from outside the travel and tourism industry have also put their names to the letter, including Mothercare chairman Alan Parker, Deutsche Bank managing director Mike Redican and British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth.
They write: “You (the prime minister and the chancellor) have rightly declared that you wish to stimulate the economy, to see the UK rise up the tourism rankings as a visitor destination, and to create thousands more aerospace jobs.
“These are laudable aims, but government policies as they currently stand make it unlikely that they will be successfully achieved.
“Constraining UK airlines and airports with the world’s highest levels of aviation tax and a lack of positive policy development, including inhibiting additional airport capacity where it is most needed, work directly against your stated primary objective of bringing about an economic recovery.
“As a consequence, the UK economy is growing less quickly than it otherwise could, and we are losing business – and associated tax revenues – to continental Europe.”
The signatories suggest a 10-point plan for the government to recognise the importance of aviation as an “essential enabler of growth” and they call for the government to reduce Air Passenger Duty, support a global Emissions Trading Scehme and introduce tax breaks for research projects on low carbon aviation technology.
Jacobs told Sky News: “We have numerous concerns. We need more airport capacity. We need a world class hub airport. The key issue is the politicians are worried about the next election when what we need is to bring some economic growth to this country.”