The Guild of Travel Management Companies plans a fresh salvo in the battle to persuade the government to expand air capacity with a campaign to identify ‘ten routes for growth’.
The GTMC will survey its member companies and leading corporate clients to identify the ten routes business travellers most want to see added to the global network from the UK.
The latest phase of a lengthy GTMC lobbying campaign, it follows the government’s announcement this month of the Davies Commission to examine the case for airport expansion in the south east.
The commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, will look at the pros and cons of expanding Heathrow or building a new hub airport and make recommendations following the next election.
However, it will produce an interim report on measures to increase runway capacity in the short term, such as allowing mixed-mode operation and night flights at Heathow. This report should appear by the end of next year.
Mixed-mode operation – using both runways simultaneously for take-offs and landings – could add 60,000 flights a year at Heathrow, but would increase noise, as would aircraft flying in and out at night.
Heathrow’s two runways are currently restricted to take-offs or landings, with a switch in use in the afternoon so no residents are subjected solely to the greater noise of aircraft taking off. However, there have been mixed-mode trials to alleviate congestion during bad weather.
GTMC political advisor Gareth Morgan, associate director at Cavendish Communications, said: “The Davies Commission has parked the issue of airport expansion but the short-term decision is still relevant.
“Mixed-mode and night flights could immediately add capacity. That is what we are interested in.”
The GTMC has worked behind the scenes at Westminster, presenting the case for aviation expansion and forging links with a new generation of MPs.
Now, Morgan said: “We will shift to a more campaigning style. If there is to be more capacity in the south east, the question is: what should be done with the extra capacity?
“We will ask members: what markets can’t you access at the moment?” We will ask senior TMC clients: what is the biggest priority?
“We’ll produce a paper identifying 10 routes for growth, probably at the end of November, which will say: if there is to be additional capacity, these are the priorities – use it for these routes.
“We want to focus on winning the argument that more capacity could make a difference, not on where this capacity should be located.”
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