Government confirms delay on airport expansion consultation

Government confirms delay on airport expansion consultation

Foreign airlines are to be encouraged to develop routes from UK airports away from congested Heathrow.

At the same time the London gateway is to be supported by plans for a new rail link supported by £500 million government investment.

But the draft aviation policy consultation, which runs until October 31, excludes the government’s plans to tackle the issue of a hub airport.

A separate call for evidence on how to maintain the UK’s international connectivity and hub status will follow later in the year once the industry has had time to consider the measures put forward for consultation today, the Department for Transport confirmed.

But British Air Transport Association chief executive Simon Buck said: “BATA regrets the further delay in publication of the full consultation that follows the DfT Scoping Document published last year.

“Originally anticipated in March, the second stage of the consultation was delayed until July and we now have further delay of a substantive part addressing UK hub capacity until the autumn.

“It is vital for the UK’s economic prosperity that we have an aviation policy that addresses the needs of all the UK. The government cannot keep on kicking this issue into the long grass while our competitors gain at our expense.”

The consultation issued by transport secretary Justine Greening today includes ideas for improving reliability and reducing delays at Heathrow.

“If operational freedoms show clear benefits in terms of resilience, reducing delays and allowing planes to land more effectively, thereby reducing the impact of noise for residents under the flight path, then the government will consult on making these benefits permanent,” the document says.

Other measures include further liberalisation of the UK aviation market to encourage foreign airlines to develop routes from airports other than Heathrow; addressing the environmental and local impacts of aviation by pushing for international action on aviation emissions while continuing to support EU Emissions Trading Scheme and incentivising noise reduction though higher landing fees for noisier aircraft at unsociable hours and higher penalties for breaching noise limits at any time.

The £500 million would go towards a western rail link to Heathrow, which is in addition to £1.4 billion already being invested to improve surface access to airports.

The government is also pressing ahead with the HS2 high speed project which it claims will “significantly improve” access to airports such as Birmingham and Manchester;

There are also plans to review of the UK’s visa regime and bring forward the recruitment of 70 additional border staff at Heathrow.  The government intends to work with US authorities to look at the options for speeding up entry into the US.

The policy also calls for supporting for the introduction of new rules by airport operators to maximise  their existing capacity, for example through limiting access to smaller aircraft.

Greening said: “This framework aims to strike a balance between allowing the aviation industry to make the most of our current capacity, while also recognising the need for a tough regime to tackle levels of noise experienced by residents on the ground.

“London is already one of the best connected cities in the world, but there is still an important but challenging debate to be had on how we accommodate the long-term growth of aviation. This framework provides the building blocks for this debate and I look forward to working with the industry, residents and other interested parties on this once they have had the chance to consider these measures.”


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