A submission from the Royal Aeronautical Society

This is an excerpt from article published in The Aerospace Professional: February 2010
Summary It is axiomatic that the UK needs broad and effective access to the world air transport system; this is a necessary function of maintaining a competitive national economy as well as encouraging economic growth in the British regions. London, centring on Heathrow, is a world hub, a major destination for international carriers and transfer traffic for both short and long-haul routes. Improvements should be made to ensure that Heathrow is able to compete as a global hub. This includes allowing mixed mode on its existing runways in order both to increase operational efficiency and reduce emissions due to stacking. The UK has a good regional air transport infrastructure that has seen significant growth over the past decade. Regional airports are especially important where rail services are poor as well as providing direct access to European and other overseas hubs. Air transport should be viewed as a vital element in an integrated national transport system. Fast-rail can be an alternative to some short haul flights, offering rapid, centrally located stations.

Questions from the Committee

  • What is the value of aviation to the UK economy?
  • What are the roles of the London and regional airports?
  • What competition do they face from abroad?
Growth in air traffic must be achieved in an environmentally sustainable manner; growth in UK originating air traffic should not be at the expense of increasing the UK’s carbon footprint beyond current values. Indeed, ideally this should over time move towards a reduction in that footprint. Government has an active role to play in maintaining the competitiveness and maximising the economic benefit of air transport. But growth must not be at the expense of the environment.

Royal Aeronautical Society
26 February 2010