Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
Panel at GTMC conference hears of threats from border controls, night-flight bans and travel taxes.
British Airways sales boss Richard Tams said the pre-eminence of the UK as a global trading centre is "under threat as never before."
Tams hosted a panel at the GTMC conference in Barcelona that discussed the threats of taxation, border controls and mooted restrictions on night flights.
The London Assembly Health and Environment Committee is calling for a total ban on night flights, which means no arrivals before 7am. Tams said early morning arrivals into Heathrow are vital to keeping London as a global hub that links key business destinations.
The CBI has cited research showing that £1.2 billion of GVA (gross value added) revenue was generated by night flights in 2011, sustaining 18,700 jobs and paying £197m in taxes.
The panel agreed another key threat to the UK's trading status was visa restrictions on inbound business visitors, particularly from China and India. British Airways proposed a series of measures, including allowing short-term visas to be renewed online, simplifying UK visas for those already holding Schengen Area visas, and scrapping transit visas for passengers holding "trusted country" entry visas. – currently transit visa waivers do not include passengers connecting to Shengen Area destinations.
Panelist Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said aviation and immigration were both "toxic issues" for government, which made lobbying on flight and visa restrictions an "uphill struggle".
Justin Slagel, chief operating officer for SLA Pharma, said the government was putting "higher and higher hurdles" in the way of small and medium-sized enterprizes (SMEs), and companies such as his are having to reconsider where they base operations because of travel constraints in the UK. "SME's suffer quietly," he said. "We should get together to make our voice heard."
Tams pointed out that the World Economic Forum's 2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness report places the UK at 139th out of 140 country - only beating Chad.