The Airport Operators Association (AOA) welcomed publication of the government’s aviation policy strategy at the end of last week.
The government’s Aviation Policy Framework, published on Friday, replaces the 2003 Air Transport White Paper which set out the previous government’s aviation strategy.
The new paper avoids the issue of airport capacity in the south east, leaving this to the Davies Commission which is not due to report fully until 2015.
However, AOA chief executive Darren Caplan said: “We are pleased to see a clear recognition that aviation needs to grow.
“We welcome the government’s confirmation that one of its main objectives is to ensure that the UK’s air links continue to make it one of the best-connected countries in the world.”
Caplan added: “We need a policy framework which recognises the importance of aviation.”
The Framework document suggests a number of ways to improve existing airport capacity ahead of the Davies Commission making recommendations.
These include the aim to “make better use of existing runway capacity through liberalising the UK aviation market to encourage foreign airlines to develop routes from less-congested airports”.
The document also suggests encouraging the operators of the UK’s busiest airports “to consider how scarce capacity might be utilised more effectively”.
The Framework commits the government and industry “to limit and reduce where possible the number of people significantly affected by airport noise”.
However, proposals put forward by the previous transport secretary Justine Greening to impose stricter thresholds on aircraft noise no longer appear.
Instead, the Framework proposes implementing “noise envelopes” around airports which would allow an increase in the number of aircraft movements in proportion to the use of quieter, more up-to-date aircraft.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin launched the Framework strategy saying: “The UK is one of the best-connected countries in the world.
“But if we want to maintain our premier league status we need an aviation sector that is equipped to face the challenges of the 21st Century.”
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