In the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Flying High report published last week ,it has backed the government’s policy of maintaining night flights quotas for air cargo until a review scheduled for 2017.
According to the business organisation’s latest report on UK aviation, air freight, which makes up 40 per cent of export figures, should not be ignored in the debate over whether Heathrow Airport, Stansted Airport, or Gatwick Airport should be given permission to expand.
The UK government’s Airports Commission is to publish its final report into airport expansion options after May 2015. Its interim report published in December 2013 concluded that the South East of England needed a new runway by 2030. While the CBI has not committed itself to a specific airport expansion option, the organisation says there is a clear need for additional air capacity in the South East, whichever option were decided. Its report added that the UK’s freight market remained vital to the future prosperity of the economy. In its recommendations, the CBI also repeated its call for wider investment in infrastructure surrounding UK airports.
In the CBI’s view enhancing air trade could be possible without significant environmental impact. The Flying High report explains that advances in aircraft technology has led to large decreases in noise, justifying the night flight regime continuing with increased UK airport capacity. It cites the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which the CBI says delivers a 60 per cent reduction in noise.The CBI’s report also identifies improved fuels and aircraft designs that can have a positive impact on meeting future emission targets, such as a 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.
Nicola Walker, CBI director for business environment, states that sensitively-managed airport expansion was of key importance. Walker says: “This is not a question of green or growth – both can, and must, go hand-in-hand. “The wealth of evidence, both in the Airports Commission’s interim review and this report, highlights that further aviation capacity can be built while continuing to meet our obligations to communities and the environment.”
The CBI report also states that 49 per cent of businesses responding to a survey expressed a view that having direct commercial air links to key emerging markets would be vital to their ventures.
The survey also found that four in five firms believed their business would be damaged if it were not possible to maintain next day delivery services for their products.
The report also revealed that a potential $1.7 billion (£1 billion) annual financial boost could be landed for the nation’s economy if another eight trade routes were opened up as part of wider airport expansion plans.