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UK aviation policy is failing UK businesses and their ability to compete globally, said Phee Teik Yeoh, Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) new general manager for UK and Ireland.
Speaking at the airline’s 25th annual parliamentary reception, and his first since being appointed in his new role, Yeoh was critical about the coalition government’s failure to encourage greener aviation.
He called on the current Tory-Lib Dem leadership to do more to incentivise airlines to purchase better, more efficient aircraft and develop greener practices.
“More can be done across the aviation industry to improve, and the role of government is to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage this,” he said.
“We purchase the A380 because it is one of the most environmentally friendly aircraft and this is an area where we won’t cut costs.”
State-imposed financial penalties on airlines are not the way to encourage greener aviation, said Yeoh.
He dismissed the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as “impractical” and called for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be scrapped.
“We do not believe that the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, which comes into force for aviation from next year, is the best way to incentivise improvements,” said Yeoh.
“It is impractical for some economic zones to have an emissions trading scheme for aviation and others not.”
Instead, Yeoh suggested aviation should enter a global emissions trading scheme, under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
APD should in any case be abandoned when the EU ETS comes into force on January 1, 2012, he said.
“APD is not an environmental tax and does not incentivise the use of greener planes such as the A380,” said Yeoh.
“There are no alternatives to flying from the UK to Singapore or to any other long haul destination, so APD cannot encourage other modes of travel.”
The SIA boss voiced his concerns for the future of Heathrow as a hub if APD is to continue, and if the government does not allow the airport to expand.
The future “global competitiveness of London as a hub destination is under threat", as are “the economic opportunities for the UK to build those crucial links with emerging economies”, he said, adding that “long distance business aviation is essential to commerce”.
“The message is clear,” concluded Yeoh. “No to APD. No to ETS. Yes to a third runway at Heathrow.”