12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
The Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) have accused the Liberal Democrats of being “highly contradictory” in their stance over airport expansion for London and the south east.
In its manifesto, published yesterday, the party said due to local issues around air and noise pollution it would not back an extra runway at Gatwick or Heathrow. However, it added that it would “carefully consider” the conclusions of the findings from the Airports Commission a move criticised by the BAR.
“The Liberal Democrats manifesto pledge on airport infrastructure is highly contradictory in stating that they will carefully consider the conclusions of the Airports Commission, and yet outright opposes any expansion at Gatwick, Heathrow or Stansted before the final recommendations are even published,” BAR CEO Dale Keller told BBT.
“The Liberal Democrats are offering no viable solutions and an aviation policy that appears incompatible with other major political parties.”
He added: “The importance of better connecting the spare airport capacity in the UK’s regions with the capital is a vital part of the UK’s aviation future, but additional access can only be achieved by expanding capacity in London, where the consumer demand exists.
“A decision on airport infrastructure is already overdue and the UK’s leading role in global aviation, and the entire UK economy, will be irretrievably damaged through another cycle of political procrastination or aviation policy vacuum.”
The Lib Dems have always backed a complete ban on the construction of any new runways in the UK but at the party’s conference in Glasgow last October, both deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable spoke out in support of building a new runway at Gatwick.
Both Labour and the Conservatives support expansion and made references to the Howard Davies Airports Commission and said they will look to respond quickly to the report on airport expansion due after the election.
The Lib Dems were also criticised by GTMC CEO Paul Wait who told BBT that the party’s stance was “at odds” with its own findings which showed a “strong demand for increased airport capacity”.
“Our own manifesto calls for an immediate decision from the next Government and a strong commitment to delivering additional airport capacity in the south east following the Airport Commission report,” said Wait.
“Not paying due diligence to this demand and the economic opportunities available as a result of additional airport capacity has the potential to put the UK at a distinct competitive disadvantage in the future as UK business will be unable to access new routes to growth.
“This raises concerns not only for the business traveller and business but for all the associations lobbying for increased airport capacity in London and the south east to support the future growth of UK PLC within the global economy.”