October 29, 2012
Aviation Is the Economy
The meeting was convened in response to a letter sent to the Chancellor and Prime Minister on the subject of aviation policy.
David Tarsh, as coordinator for the group, presented a paper and made the points that the calibre of people present was in itself a message that the Government’s policy on aviation (or lack of it) was actively damaging to the economy and that it was crucial that early recommendations from the Davies Commission be actioned without delay.
Jon Moulton said that the lack of capacity was costing thousands of jobs and tens of billion of pounds. Furthermore, the lack of hub capacity was very bad for business in all parts of the country.
Alan Parker said that the British Hospitality Association’s work indicated that if the Government followed its recommendations on aviation (as well as visas), the UK could expect to create 236,000 jobs by 2015.
Mike Redican complained about the lack of spokes from the one hub London has and pointed out that France had generated considerable business with Brazil as a consequence of the air connections Paris has with that country.
Mike Carrivick explained that foreign airlines were not coming to the UK and investing in the way they would like because of capacity constraints and Government policy, which was effectively erecting a sign saying ‘not interested’.
Simon Buck stressed the problems caused by timing and called for decisions to be made now. Whilst it is important to look at the long term, the short term issues around lack of policy and capacity need to be addressed.
Ufi Ibrahim asked what industry could do to help Government act, and sought Sajid Javid’s views on what he thought of the debate and issues surrounding aviation.
Savid Javid replied that he was sympathetic to the message and understood the global race the UK is in. He used to be a very regular business traveller around the Far east and was previously part of a think tank that argued for four runways at Heathrow. Furthermore, the Chancellor was well aware of his views when he was appointed.
In terms of making progress, he felt this meeting was important and stressed the need for cross-party political agreement. He felt the group should lobby other ministers and backbenchers, and whilst doing so should point out the spending level of Chinese visitors compared with other visitors and the importance of visas.
Brigid Simmonds said that a champion was needed in Government and hoped that Sajid would be one.
Darren Caplan stressed that including aviation prominently in the 2011 National Infrastructure Plan made aviation central to the Treasury’s agenda; and called for an ongoing dialogue between Sajid David and business leaders, to ensure he and his team were kept informed about the damage the current situation was causing in terms of real jobs, business opportunities and growth.
Sajid Javid responded by saying that his door was open and his officials available.
Sajid Javid HM Treasury
Ufi Ibrahim British Hospitality Association
Simon Buck British Air Transport Association
Darren Caplan Airport Operators Association
Mike Carrivick Board of Airline Representatives
Jon Moulton Better Capital
Alan Parker British Hospitality Association
Mike Redican Deutsche Bank
Nora Senior British Chambers of Commerce
Brigid Simmonds British Beer & Pub Association
Corin Taylor Institute of Directors
David Tarsh Tarsh Consulting