Airport Operators Association calls for better aviation connectivity to benefit UK plc

The Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for UK airports, has today responded to the Airports Commission position paper on ‘Connectivity and the Economy’ by calling for better aviation connectivity and warning that the UK could potentially miss out on significant trade and investment opportunities if it does not improve its air links with existing and emerging economies.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the AOA, said: “Aviation is a hugely important sector for UK plc. It facilitates the trade of goods and services, contributes to a vibrant tourism sector and encourages business investment into the UK. Some 40% (by value) of the UK’s exports travel by air and air travel accounts for 84% of all inbound visitors’ spending. The sector contributes over £50 billion to UK plc and provides for a million jobs.

“However, it is clear that our performance in terms of air connectivity with overseas markets could be better, and that all parts of the UK are losing out on potential trading opportunities with some of the high-growth, developing economies around the world. The AOA’s response to the Airports Commission asserts that, although UK airports have had some success delivering closer links with key developing regions around the world, for example in the Middle East and Asia, we now need to go further and faster if we are to compete with international rivals who are also seeking to grow their ties with these countries.

“According to the CBI, adding just one additional daily flight to each of the eight largest high-growth markets in the world would increase UK trade by as much as £1 billion a year. In its recent Aviation Policy Framework, the Government sent some welcome positive signals about the value and importance of aviation to UK plc. It now needs to build on this by ensuring the UK has a planning regime which actively promotes sustainable development for all UK airports wishing to grow, and by committing to implementing the recommendations set out in the Airports Commission on maintaining the UK’s hub status when they are made public in 2015. The country needs both vibrant point-to-point airports and sufficient world-class hub capacity to link to both existing and new markets if we are to prosper as an outward-looking trading nation, both now and in the years to come.”

For further information please contact Tim Alderslade on 0207 340 0992 or


The Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the trade association that represents UK airports. Its mission is to see UK airports grow sustainably. It represents the views of UK airports to Government, Parliament and Regulators to secure policy outcomes that help deliver our mission. The AOA represents some 50+ UK airports and general aviation airfields in the UK. For more information, please visit

Notes to editors

  •     The AOA’s response to the Airports Commission ‘Connectivity and the Economy’ position paper can be downloaded  here.
  •     CBI report quoted: CBI (2013), ‘Trading Places: Unlocking Export Opportunities through Better Air Links’
  •     In October 2012, the AOA produced ‘An Integrated Policy Framework for UK Aviation: Connecting the Economy for Jobs and Growth’, in which it argues that lack of air connectivity means lost growth – see in particular pages 14-15. This document can be found at
  •     The Government’s Aviation Policy Framework was published in March 2013, and can be seen at