Airports and aviation play a vital role in the UK economy. The sector has a significant economic impact and makes a much wider economic contribution to the benefit of UK plc. Conservative figures show that the sector contributes over £50 billion towards UK GDP and provides employment for over one million jobs, not to mention the over 2.5 million UK jobs reliant on both inbound and outbound tourism.
The airports and aviation sector acknowleges its activities have an effect on the environment, and is seeking to ensure that future growth takes place on a sustainable footing. The AOA is working with the 'Sustainable Aviation' alliance of airport operators, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and air navigation service providers to ensure a collective approach to this.
Ultimately, the AOA passionately believes that aviation is a social and economic good. It is an essential part of the UK's sustainable integrated transport network, providing both national and international connectivity for holidaymakers, people wishing to visit friends and relatives across the UK and around the world, and travellers on business. And, crucially, it is a prime driver and facilitator of growth, helping the UK create private sector jobs and businesses in what are tough economic times.
Promoting the importance of aviation to UK plc
The AOA seeks to promote the vital importance of aviation to UK plc in terms of jobs, business success, growth and connectivity. Aviation contributes over £50 billion to the UK Exchequer and around one million jobs. More than £6 billion a year is raised in taxes, including more than £2 billion from Air Passenger Duty (APD).
Themes covered in this aspect of our work include:
- Reinforcing the position of airports as ‘critical infrastructure’ both nationally and in all regions of the country;
- Stressing the need to boost tourism (in particular from India and China) – which is vital in 2013 if the UK Government is seeking not to drop from sixth to seventh place (behind Germany) in the world tourism table;
- Pushing for improved surface access to airports in all areas of the country;
- Promoting Sustainable Aviation.
In October 2012, the AOA published its "An Integrated Policy Framework for UK Aviation" document. This set out what we believe a bold and integrated aviation policy should look like. It took a cross-Government-Departmental view on what is needed for UK aviation, detailed how aviation boosts UK jobs and growth, and set out 25 deliverable policy recommendations to the Government to bring this about.
Over the course of 2013, we will continue with our work by doing the following:
- Responding to the Aviation Policy Framework when it is published in March;
- Engaging and responding to the Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, as its various papers are released through the year and its Interim Report is published by the end of the year.
Securing a fair framework for sectoral growth
Maintaining the UK’s international competitiveness requires world-class airport infrastructure. Demand for flights is expected to rise to 335 million passengers by 2030, requiring both the best use of today’s airports and investment for tomorrow. The Coalition Government’s 2011 National Infrastructure Plan recognised the importance of airports for the first time. The Department for Transport’s Aviation Policy Framework (APF), due to be published by the end of March 2013, must signal more clearly the Government’s desire to see a boost in publicly-funded infrastructure mirrored in the world of privately-funded airports, and overall growth in the UK airports sector. Also, the Airports Commission must move quickly to identify solutions; and the Government must go further and faster with its reforms to streamline the planning system governing airport growth.
Campaigning for a fairer aviation tax
Air Passenger Duty (APD) is one of the main areas of focus for the AOA. Since 2007, APD has increased by between 160% and 360%, and were it to increase every year as it did in 2012, over £10 billion in UK economic growth could be lost by 2030. A members’ survey carried out in November 2012 found widespread evidence of lost routes and connectivity because of current levels of APD – the highest aviation tax anywhere in the world.
One of our key messages is to call on the Government to put an end to increases in APD and to conduct urgent macro-modelling work on its effects on the whole of the UK economy. These were two of the main recommendations contained in the AOA’s “An Integrated Policy Framework for UK Aviation” document, which was published in October 2012 and distributed widely across Westminster and Whitehall. The AOA also produced a submission ahead of the 2013 Budget, which argued against an increase in APD and showed how other European countries – such as Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands – have actually abandoned their aviation taxes altogether due to the negative impact they are having on their economies.
We continue to play a key part in the industry alliance group ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’, helping to raise support for the campaign among parliamentarians and the wider public.
The AOA continues to play a key role in Sustainable Aviation (SA), demonstrating our commitment to ‘cleaner, quieter, smarter’ aviation. The purpose of SA remains to provide support and research to member organisations in their programme of lobbying to demonstrate the sustainability of aviation. It aims to both demonstrate to political decision makers that aviation, working collaboratively, has a future strategy to decarbonise and reduce noise and local air quality impacts; and provide rebuttal to anti-aviation campaigners and environmental groups, and demonstrate to the public that there are two sides to the aviation environmental debate.
The AOA played a major role in launching SA’s Carbon Road-Map in March 2012, which showed how UK aviation can accommodate growth to 2050 without a substantial increase in absolute CO2 emissions (whilst also supporting the reduction of net CO2 emissions to 50% of 2005 levels through internationally agreed carbon trading), and took the lead in organising the 2012 SA end-of-year reception in the House of Commons, attended by over 100 stakeholders including 10 MPs.
An SA Noise Road-Map is due to be launched in the House of Commons on Tuesday 23 April 2013.
The Passenger Experience
Promoting a ‘better passenger experience’ is an issue the AOA has been keen to progress for some time. The AOA’s work in this area involves four strands:
1. Engaging positively with the CAA’s Consumer Panel;
2. Working with AOA members to develop a better security experience for outbound passengers;
3. Calling for a better UK Borders experience for inbound passengers;
4. Promoting all the great work AOA airports are doing to develop a ‘better passenger experience’.