‘Use regional air capacity more effectively’, urges Bristol

Airports outside London should serve their local markets more effectively by making best use of existing capacity, easing congestion in the South East as a result.

The call comes today as part of a five-point plan for a balanced aviation policy supporting the UK regions set out today by Bristol airport.

Bristol’s formal response to the Department for Transport’s UK aviation consultation is published alongside a position paper containing policy proposals which it claims would help rebalance the economy.

The ‘Giving wings to airports across the UK’ paper is published today (Monday) at the Airport Operators Association annual conference.

Bristol airport chief executive Robert Sinclair said it is “critical” to remember that significant airport capacity already exists in the UK regions.

“Government policy should encourage the use of this capacity and should encourage private sector investment in long-term infrastructure,” he said. “Not only will this relieve congestion at airports in the South East, but it will help rebalance the economy at the same time.

“Like many airports outside London, Bristol airport is very well placed to create jobs and drive economic growth in its region.

“What we need is a very clear and very tangible aviation policy which supports growth and investment.”

Bristol airport’s five recommendations for a balanced aviation policy are:

•       Rebalancing the economy
•       Investing in surface access improvements
•       Supporting inbound tourism to the regions
•       Promoting travel policies which use regional airports
•       Maintaining ‘light touch’ regulation in the aviation sector

“While it is airlines who decide which routes are operated from which airports, a range of policy levers and fiscal measures should be employed to ensure best use is made of existing airport capacity,” the airport argues.

“Government should also address the anomaly whereby passengers on domestic flights linking far-flung regions of the UK pay double the tax of those making return trips to destinations in other European countries.”

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