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UK Transport Dept releases draft Aviation Policy Framework, postpones airport capacity consultation

13-Jul-2012 12:21 PM

UK's Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening announced (12-Jul-2012) the release of the draft Aviation Policy Framework consultation document and the postponement of its consultation on UK airport capacity. More frequent flights to emerging markets, improved access to airports (including GBP500 million towards a new rail link to London Heathrow Airport) and a reduction in the impact of airports on local communities are set to be key to the UK aviation strategy, Ms Greening said. The draft policy framework, which will form the basis of future aviation growth in the UK, has been developed following discussions with the industry. The framework also includes a package of measures which will quickly deliver operational improvements and boost economic growth within existing airport capacity constraints. The measures include:

  • Further liberalisation of the UK aviation market to encourage foreign airlines to develop routes from airports other than Heathrow;
  • Improving reliability and reducing delays at Heathrow;
  • Addressing the environmental and local impacts of aviation via:
    • Pushing for international action on aviation emissions while continuing to support EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS);
    • Incentivising noise reduction though higher landing fees for noisier aircraft at unsociable hours and higher penalties for breaching noise limits at any time;
  • GBP500 million towards a western rail link to Heathrow, which is in addition to GBP1.4 billion already being invested to improve surface access to airports, including GBP44 million towards upgrading London Gatwick Airport station and a new fleet of 30 electric trains already improving services on the Stansted Express. In addition, the Government is pressing ahead with HS2 which will significantly improve access to airports such as Birmingham and Manchester;
  • Improving efficiency at the border, including a review of the UK’s visa regime, bringing forward the recruitment of 70 additional border staff at Heathrow and working with US authorities to look at the options for speeding up entry into the US;
  • Supporting the introduction of new rules by airport operators to maximise their existing capacity, for example, through limiting access to smaller aircraft;
  • Introducing airport performance charters which will set out the level of service airlines and their passengers should expect from airport operators;
  • Improving the overall passenger experience through the Civil Aviation Bill which is expected to gain Royal Assent in 2013.

A separate call for evidence on how to maintain the UK’s international connectivity and hub status will follow later in the year once the industry has had time to consider the measures put forward for consultation. Upon the release of the document, Ms Greening said: “This framework aims to strike a balance between allowing the aviation industry to make the most of our current capacity, while also recognising the need for a tough regime to tackle levels of noise experienced by residents on the ground...there is still an important but challenging debate to be had on how we accommodate the long-term growth of aviation.” Ms Greening also said she recognises the value of aviation as an important economic sector in its own right and as a key driver of UK economic growth. It contributes around GBP17 billion of economic output and employs over 220,000 workers directly and many more indirectly, she noted. [more - original PR] [more - original PR - II] [more - original PR - Full Report]