Business concerns about UK air links and whether the Airports Commission’s findings will be delivered

EMBARGO: Immediate, 21st October 2013

Less than half of senior financial decision-makers are satisfied with UK air links to existing, traditional overseas markets and emerging overseas markets; and fewer than two in five have confidence that the solutions put forward by Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission to address long-term connectivity needs will be delivered.  These are the key findings of a ComRes survey commissioned by the Airport Operators Association (AOA), which questioned 500 UK senior business decision-makers this month.

The poll comes ahead of the Annual AOA Conference on 21 & 22 October, which will see Sir Howard Davies delivering a keynote address, and just two months before the Airports Commission is due to publish an Interim Report setting out a shortlist of options for maintaining the UK’s status as an international hub for aviation.

The survey found:

  • Less than half of senior financial decision-makers in the UK say that they are very or fairly satisfied with UK air links to existing, traditional overseas markets (49%), and just two fifths (43%) say they are satisfied with UK air links to emerging overseas markets (43%).
  • Fewer than two in five senior financial decision makers in the UK (37%) say they have confidence that the Airports Commission’s solutions for the UK’s long term connectivity needs will be delivered, with a similar proportion (36%) saying they do not have confidence the solutions will be delivered.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “Aviation is a hugely important sector for UK plc, supporting a million jobs and £50bn GDP, contributing over £8bn in tax revenue, and providing and facilitating the trade of goods and services to existing and emerging markets, at home and overseas. Yet this survey reveals there is a feeling amongst a wide section of the business community that – despite the UK having the third largest aviation network in the world, after the US and China – we could be doing much better in terms of our connectivity with existing and emerging markets.

“To deliver the UK’s future air connectivity we need both vibrant point-to-point airports and sufficient world class hub capacity, and the Airports Commission’s work is crucial to ensure we have this in the years ahead. So it is worrying that there are so many doubts from business that the Airports Commission findings will get implemented, at a time when international rivals are growing their ties with the fast-growing economies of the future.

“The AOA supports the Airports Commission, continues to  call on it to consider all options looking at airport growth, urges it to stick to its timetable of delivering its Final Report no later than summer 2015, and encourages the political parties to commit to acting on the findings of the Commission. This AOA/ComRes survey is a timely reminder though that the Commission will need to re-double its efforts on securing the consensus of the political parties, if its Final Report conclusions are to be implemented when they are reported in summer 2015. Only by securing this political support will business have confidence that the Commission’s solutions to delivering the UK’s future air connectivity needs will be delivered.”

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

Notes to editors:

  • ComRes interviewed 500 UK senior business decision makers by telephone between the 7th and 17th October 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of all UK businesses with a turnover of £50,000+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  • The survey was commissioned by the Airport Operators Association, the trade body for UK airports.
  •  A full data table can be viewed by visiting

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