Airport Operators Association welcomes latest developments on visas

EMBARGO: Immediate, 14th October 2013

Responding to the news that the Government has pledged to introduce new reforms to the UK visa system,Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for UK airports, which has campaigned on this issue, said:

“The Government is to be commended for taking bold steps on visas. It is clear that they have listened to the many organisations who have campaigned for the introduction of a joint visa application system, and heeded the research which shows that 93% of Chinese people looking to visit both the UK and Schengen zone only want to go through one application. The proposed reforms should put an end to the current burden of having to apply twice.

“We would also like to see the Government go further by actively looking into the idea of reducing the cost of a UK visa, so that it is at the very worst no more expensive than the cost of a Schengen visa. This would send a strong signal that the UK is open for business and wants to welcome tourists to these shores. A UK visa gives a Chinese tourist the ability to visit only one country, whereas a Schengen visa enables a tourist to visit 26 countries – yet, it costs £80 for a 6-month UK visa compared to £50 for a 6-month Schengen visa, putting us at a serious competitive disadvantage compared to our nearest international competitors.

“However, overall this reform – along with recent efforts to improve the level of service we are offering potential Chinese visitors, such as making the visa application form available in the native language – should send out a powerful message that the UK is serious about competing in the global race, and wants to attract the business of high-spending, hard-working Chinese visitors. We therefore welcome the Government’s reforms.”

For further information, please contact AOA Public Affairs & PR Manager Tim Alderslade on 020 7799 3171/ 07855 337616 or

Notes to editors:

The Government’s proposed changes include enabling Chinese tourists and businesspeople who wish to travel to the UK the opportunity to apply for a visa using the same form that is used to enter the Schengen zone. Other reforms announced include introducing a new 24-hour “super priority” visa.

The Airport Operators Association: The 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

Tim Alderslade
Public Affairs & PR Manager