Opinion: Passengers must be at heart of aviation strategy

Opinion: Passengers must be at heart of aviation strategy

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer spoke yesterday at the Transport Times Conference, attended by senior aviation figures including Theresa Villiers minister of state for transport. There he set out his five key commitments he believes must be at the heart of the Government’s aviation strategy to improve the passenger experience at UK airports.

Connectivity


Air transport plays a vital role in providing the international and regional connectivity that the UK needs. Connectivity not only creates the right conditions for economic growth and investment, but also allows the British public to travel most efficiently whether for business or leisure.

Connectivity is equally important for overseas companies seeking to invest in the UK and tourists wishing to visit.

Passengers should have the choice of taking a direct flight, not have to travel via a continental hub.

Reliability


Resilience is very important for airports and airlines to be able to offer passengers a reliable and quality service. Without increased resilience, what should be a minor disruption as a result of adverse weather or other incidents can result in severe delays.

The UK’s two largest airports are capacity constrained with no or very little spare capacity to recover from weather related closures, or other incidents.

Planning needs to start now to ensure there is the necessary runway, and terminal, capacity in place where and when it is needed.

Access


Passengers want to fly from their local airport, wherever possible. This includes Heathrow and Gatwick, which are the local airports for millions.

Airports are keen to encourage passengers to travel by public transport to access the airport. Whilst excellent public transport links are in place to some airports, others are poorly served and there is room for improvement at all.

Passengers' being able to use public transport to their local airport is good for the environment, good for local communities and should be encouraged. Government could be doing more here and while we’re encouraged that they are in some areas, it also requires major improvement that only significant investment in infrastructure can deliver.

Swift and efficient passage through airport


Not only do passengers want to have easy access to their chosen airport, they also want to be able to speed through the various controls once there. Passengers hate queues and airports and their partners have done their best to keep these to a minimum.

Airports and their partners have worked hard to improve their service and ensure that the passenger enjoys a quality and consistent service at every stage of their journey. This includes putting procedures in place to ensure that less mobile passengers have a seamless journey through the airport.

The Government should ensure that the UK Border Force has sufficient manpower and resources in place to avoid unnecessary queues at peak periods. This means more co-ordination between Government agencies, and recognition that queues are bad for customers, bad for business and ultimately bad for Britain.

Affordability


APD is a tax that is hostile to the economy and makes Britain uncompetitive against our nearest European rivals. We would encourage the Government to commission an impact assessment that fully weighs APD’s true impact on the UK and to take the necessary steps to stop APD increasing any further and, better still, to reduce it.

While tax is not a part of the Department of Transport’s aviation review – it should be. Passengers, when thinking about the aviation experience, will not limit their opinions to Government departmental silos – the UK’s aviation priorities demand a joined up approach from Government.

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