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“Do not lose sight of regionals' role", warns Bristol Airport

Created: 21st Oct 2013

New film highlights the benefits of airports outside London.

New film highlights the benefits of airports outside London

Bristol Airport features in a short film focusing on the benefits of flying from regional airports launched today at the Airport Operators Association (AOA) Annual Conference at the London Hilton Metropole.

The film forms part of the AOA TV News programme which will be hosted on the ITN Transport News channel. Bristol Airport features alongside other aviation industry organisations, but is the only regional airport involved. The film can also be viewed here.

Focusing on the wide range of destinations available, convenient and friendly service, and the value generated for the regional economy, the film complements Bristol Airport’s policy document, ‘Giving wings to airports across the UK’, launched at the AOA Conference last year.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive at Bristol Airport, said:
“The film captures the regional airport experience, featuring business, leisure and inbound passengers who value the friendliness and convenience we offer. It is a timely reminder that the important role regional airports can play in rebalancing the economy should not be overlooked in an aviation debate dominated by London interests.

“We are not suggesting Bristol Airport can solve the challenges faced in the South East – although we do have the capacity to relieve some of the congestion at the London airports by encouraging more passengers from our region to use their local airport. But it is important that the Government does not lose sight of the regional picture and continues to support airports outside London through improved surface access, overseas promotion and light touch regulation which recognises that resources may be more limited.

Last year Bristol Airport responded to the Government’s consultation on its Aviation Policy Framework with five recommendations which would deliver real benefits for airports in the regions, the wider economy and passengers across the country.

Entitled ‘Giving wings to airports across the UK’, the position paper sets out five recommendations for Government policy which would enable airports outside London to more effectively serve their local markets by making best use of existing capacity, easing congestion in the South East as a result.

Bristol Airport’s five recommendations for a balanced aviation policy are:

  1. Rebalancing the economy

    In order to deliver the forecast growth in UK air passengers and spread the benefits of connectivity more evenly across the UK, aviation policy must provide clear support for specific growth proposals at airports in the regions. Without an explicit Government policy directive, critical decisions affecting regional economic growth risk becoming bogged down in local planning disputes. Action is also required to make best use of existing capacity outside London. While it is airlines who decide which routes are operated from which airports, a range of policy levers and fiscal measures should be employed to ensure best use is made of existing airport capacity.
  2. Investing in surface access improvements

    Government policy should prioritise transport proposals that would deliver short, medium and long-term improvements in surface access to airports outside London in order to drive economic growth within the regions. Links to nearby airports should be a key consideration when assessing applications for funding of new transport schemes, and integration of rail and air services must be central to the assessment of rail franchise replacement bids. The scope of the Department for Transport’s review of rail access to airports should be extended beyond those airports named in the Draft Aviation Policy Framework and widened to include road transport.
  3. Supporting inbound tourism to the regions

    The Government’s tourism strategy should encourage international visitors to use airports in the regions as gateways to the UK. The proximity of regional attractions to local airports with access to international connections should be highlighted in marketing materials promoting the UK overseas. Priority should also be given to airports outside London when considering initiatives, such as US pre-clearance, which would increase their appeal to international passengers. Similarly, where this would provide benefits to inbound passengers, Government agencies should consider piloting other innovative technology and processes at airports in the regions.
  4. Promoting travel policies which embrace airports in the regions

    Private and public sector organisations should be encouraged to revise travel policies to, where possible, favour the use of airports in the region in which they are located. This would deliver a combination of time, cost and emissions savings, while also relieving congestion at London airports. Government should also address the anomaly whereby passengers on domestic flights linking far-flung regions of the UK pay double the tax of those making return trips to destinations in other European countries.
  5. Maintaining ‘light touch’ regulation in the aviation sector

    The Government should act decisively to reduce the regulatory burden and costs for airports. Additional regulatory costs act as a drag on efficiency and should be avoided wherever possible. Regulation should avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach, with the characteristics of individual airports taken into consideration when framing any limits or guidelines required.