UK avi­a­tion plan puts Heathrow at core of post-Brexit era

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Lon­don, UK - Bri­tain’s strat­egy for boost­ing the avi­a­tion sec­tor will seek to en­hance in­ter­na­tional con­nec­tiv­ity as the UK quits the Euro­pean Union, tighten noise and pol­lu­tion curbs, tap new anti-ter­ror­ist tech­nolo­gies and im­prove the travel ex­pe­ri­ence with every­thing from per­sonal bag­gage col­lec­tion to smoother bor­der con­trols.

The plan would also seek to safe­guard Bri­tain’s aerospace man­u­fac­tur­ing base, ad­vance the de­vel­op­ment of a home­grown space in­dus­try and en­cour­age new de­vel­op­ments such as drones and per­sonal “fly­ing taxis” while main­tain­ing a rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tory regime, ac­cord­ing to a call for ev­i­dence is­sued by the Depart­ment for Trans­port (DfT) Fri­day.

At the heart of the strat­egy, in­tended to guide pol­icy mak­ing to 2050 and beyond, is a com­mit­ment to build a £16bn (US$21bn) third run­way at Lon­don Heathrow air­port. The study will also con­sider how best to uti­lize spare ca­pac­ity at other hubs be­fore the new strip opens in 2030, es­pe­cially as Bri­tain seeks to safe­guard and ex­tend air links be­fore quit­ting the Euro­pean Union.

“In the short term, post-ref­er­en­dum, the gov­ern­ment is fo­cused on the 44 coun­tries in­clud­ing EU mem­ber states, the US and Canada, where our mar­ket ac­cess is via EU-ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments,” the DfT doc­u­ment says, adding that “new ar­range­ments are a top pri­or­ity for the gov­ern­ment.”

Bri­tain has the world’s big­gest air trans­port and aerospace sec­tor af­ter the US, worth £22bn an­nu­ally to the econ­omy, while Lon­don has the busiest air­port sys­tem, with flights to more than 370 cities in 100 coun­tries.

Also un­der con­sid­er­a­tion is the im­pact of the UK’s air-pas­sen­ger tax on com­pe­ti­tion, whether the sys­tem for al­lo­cat­ing op­er­at­ing slots at busy air­ports might be im­proved, and if cur­rent rules on state aid are “cor­rectly bal­anced.”

UK Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling, who launched the pub­lic dis­cus­sion at Manch­ester Air­port in north­ern Eng­land, said the con­sul­ta­tion will seek to gauge opinion on how to ap­proach fur­ther run­way de­vel­op­ments af­ter the de­ci­sion to ex­pand Heathrow was de­layed for decades by the lack of a po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus.

The min­is­ter added that the gov­ern­ment re­mains firmly be­hind the Heathrow third run­way and that the lack of a Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity and the re­turn to Par­lia­ment of prom­i­nent law­mak­ers op­posed to the plan won’t hold it up.

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