Leisure travel ‘must not come second to business’

The industry has demanded leisure travel is not treated as a 
second-class sector when the government considers new runway capacity in the southeast.

On Monday senior travel figures appeared before the Transport Select Committee, which is looking at government aviation strategy.

Representatives from Abta, Tui Travel and Thomas Cook agreed with Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary (pictured) that it is not just Heathrow that needs additional capacity.

O’Leary told MPs new runways should be built at Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow to ensure proper competition between airports.

Chairman Louise Ellman MP said it had been suggested that leisure travel capacity could be reduced and business travel increased.

However, Andy Cooper, Thomas Cook’s 
director for government and external affairs, said: “What we wouldn’t want to see is leisure being treated as second class.”

He said the concern was that unless airport capacity is increased for leisure travellers, government policy would dictate where holidaymakers fly from, rather than taking account of where they would prefer to fly from.

Eddie Redfern, head of regulatory affairs at Tui, said: “We would support additional sustainable runway capacity at those airports that have demonstrated the need; Gatwick is getting to that point. For the rest of the UK we do not believe there is a significant issue.”

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “I would not want to see leisure reduced to a second-class issue within the travel debate.”

O’Leary described proposals for a new hub airport as ‘harebrained’, and called for APD to be scrapped and for the CAA to be disbanded.

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