'Massive' business support for Heathrow, says GTMC

'Massive' business support for Heathrow, says GTMC

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Support for expanding Heathrow among business travellers is “massive”, says the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC).

The GTMC released the preliminary findings of research among 1,000 corporate travellers yesterday showing 61% back Heathrow expansion and 74% want an increase in flights from UK regional airports to Heathrow.

GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: “There is massive support for expanding Heathrow. People in the regions are bemoaning the lack of services into Heathrow.”

Addressing GTMC members following their annual general meeting in London yesterday, Wait said: “Business travellers are increasingly using international hubs outside the UK because connectivity to the UK regions is not what it should be.

“Whoever gets in [to government in May] will be forced to make a decision.”

The GTMC will release a general election manifesto at the Business Travel Show in London later this month.

New GTMC chairman Graham Ramsey, chief executive of corporate travel group ATP, said: “We want to be able to define our economic impact and have a seat at the top table on all decisions affecting travel.

“Infrastructure and connectivity are our [manifesto] key themes.”

Wait told GTMC members: “We’ve proved the connection between investment in business travel and economic growth. We’ve demonstrated the value business travel brings.”

He said the research shows a majority of business travellers believe abolishing Air Passenger Duty (APD) would see more spent on corporate travel.

“Once APD is reduced, corporate travellers will travel more,“ he said.

But Wait raised concern, suggesting the government could decide “to get rid of APD and introduce VAT on transport”.

He said: “Could the government be tempted to balance the books by applying VAT to travel?”

Wait also demanded reform of the rail franchising system to allow multiple rail companies on a single route.

He said: “Three quarter of business travellers want to see an increase in rail travel providers on routes. The rail franchising system needs reform.”

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