Aviation Reception 2018

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) was joined by industry partners in hosting the annual Aviation Summer Reception on the Terrace Pavilion at the Houses of Parliament. Following remarks from Gavin Shuker MP and Jane Middleton, Chair of Airlines UK, Ed Anderson Chairman of the AOA made the following comments:

“My Lords, Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the AOA, I would like to welcome you all to the annual Aviation Reception. The AOA is delighted to be co-hosting this year’s event with ABTA, Airlines UK, the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, IATA and Sustainable Aviation. I would also like to add my thanks to Gavin Shuker MP for kindly hosting this reception.

I will shortly hand over to the Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg. I am sure she will be relieved that today’s reception comes after a successful vote on a third runway at Heathrow – it is one less thing many in this room will be lobbying her on.

As we gather here in Parliament, I wanted to reflect on how we can work together to ensure aviation benefits everyone. It will not surprise you when I say that aviation is a driver of economic prosperity and is a sector that delivers many social benefits. Our sector contributes more than a billion pounds a week to GDP and employs more than a million people. We also enable people to visit friends and family abroad and take people to unforgettable holiday destinations. Around half the UK population flew at least once in 2016 according to the most recent National Travel Survey. That’s around 10% more than in 2011 and shows that the social benefits of aviation are widespread.

Aviation is also a catalyst for economic growth, with a rule of thumb that for every 10% growth in aviation connectivity, GDP grows by 0.5%. What that means in practice, for example, you can see around Manchester Airport. Its routes to Hong Kong and Beijing have reported an increase of inward investment in the North of more than £500 million. Or you can see it near Newcastle. Their Emirates route to Dubai has seen the value of exports flown out of Newcastle grow from under £20m in 2006 to over £350m in 2016.

Lastly, with three-quarters of all visitors coming to the UK by air, aviation is a vital enabler of the tourism industry. Take, for example, travel between Edinburgh and Hamburg which used to involve a long journey via a hub airport. When easyJet introduced a direct route, travel between the Hamburg area and Scotland increased tenfold, 80% of which was Germans visiting Scotland.


It is clear then that aviation brings benefits to people and business across the UK. The AOA believes the new Aviation Strategy should be an opportunity to not just note that aviation growth happens but also to actively encourage it so that more people and more parts of the UK can reap those benefits.

While ours is a sector that is broadly in private hands, the Government has many important levers that decide how buoyant connectivity growth is and their active role is thus vital. For instance, our airspace needs to be modernised to enable an increase in capacity and reduce aviation’s environmental impact. That requires clear government leadership on exactly how we do that.

On the ground as in the air: without sufficient airport infrastructure and surface access to airports connectivity growth will stall. That is why the AOA believes the new Aviation Strategy should be a clear framework for growth, setting out the conditions under which additional capacity can be created.

This will include environmental conditions. Our licence to grow depends on our ability to do so sustainably. That is why the AOA is a proud member of the Sustainable Aviation coalition. Their report released today on aviation noise demonstrates how much progress we have made on our commitment for quieter flying since the publication of the SA Noise Road Map in 2013.

Since 2014, the number of people significantly impacted by aircraft noise around major SA Airports has been reduced by 12,200, despite a 13% rise in passenger numbers. As Jane pointed out, that has been made possible by, for example, new generation aircraft. However, we need to modernise our airspace to enable full use of the technological advances these aircraft bring, which requires the Government leadership I mentioned earlier.

Lastly, a crucial lever for Government is Air Passenger Duty. UK airports are tremendously successful in securing new routes but are achieving this with one hand tied behind their backs. Imagine how many more destinations could be unlocked, if we did not charge more than double the amount of tax our neighbours charge – neighbours who, unlike the UK, enjoy double digit connectivity growth.


We look forward to working with you, Minister, on all these aspects. Together we can ensure aviation thrives and share the benefits of economic and social prosperity across the whole of the UK. With that, I would like to invite the Minister to the stage for her speech. Thank you.”