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bmi calls for airport expansion

28th February 2008 Print
The Institute of Directors (IoD) in association with bmi has published a report that surveys business leaders’ attitudes towards air travel. The report, entitled ‘High Fliers: business leaders’ view on air travel’, surveyed 500 IoD members.

The findings showed an overwhelming support from UK businesses on airport expansion with 70 per cent of respondents in favour. Those surveyed believe that failure to do so would adversely affect the business of their organisations.

The report is also highly pertinent to the current consultation on the UK Government’s proposals to expand capacity at Heathrow airport, the UK’s key international airline hub. The extensive network of services available from Heathrow has been an important factor in attracting business to the UK and in supporting London’s development as a major global business centre. New runway capacity at Heathrow is therefore essential if the UK is to remain competitive in global markets.

Demand for business travel by air is anticipated to grow by business leaders over the next three years with the fastest expansion on routes to destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. Business travel within the UK is also important with nearly three quarters of members using passenger air services for business travel purposes in the UK.

When it comes to the environment, nearly two thirds of respondents agree that air fares should be higher to ensure that the aviation industry pays its full environmental costs. The average increase that respondents felt would reflect the cost was equivalent to an extra £6.50 on a £100 short haul trips and almost £200 more on a £3,000 long haul business class fare.

Commenting on the survey, Miles Templeman Director General of the IoD said: “Business travel is the lifeblood of a prosperous and competitive economy. Many businesses rely on good air services to keep in touch with clients, suppliers, and staff across the world. The contribution that this makes to economic prosperity must not be overlooked.

“Decisions about the future of aviation in this country must strike the right balance between the huge economic benefits of air travel and its substantial environmental costs. Satisfactory solutions must be found to deal with noise and air quality issues, and aviation should pay its environmental costs in full, in the same way as any other activity.

“The best way of achieving this is for aviation to be included in a cap-and-trade scheme such as the EU emissions trading scheme at the earliest opportunity.”

Miles Templeman added:

“The UK’s network of air transport services is a key strategic asset and a source of competitive advantage for the UK economy, and Heathrow is vital at its core.

“Unfortunately Heathrow’s performance has become tarnished as it has been forced to handle rising demand with inadequate capacity, including the same two runways with which it started operations more than 50 years ago. Heathrow urgently needs the extra capacity to enable it to handle more flights, and we welcome the government’s recognition of the strong case for introducing this.”

Commenting from bmi, Tim Bye deputy chief executive said:

“As the second largest airline at Heathrow, bmi has experienced first hand the difficulties of operating out of the UK’s busiest airport and we have long been lobbying the BAA for improvements to its services and facilities. Heathrow airport continues to be a valuable business hub for UK industry and bmi’s regional network enables businesses to connect to Heathrow and beyond.

“Unsurprisingly, the report shows that reliability is important to business travellers. They expect their airline to be punctual and we take this very seriously at bmi. All our staff work hard to ensure that our punctuality performance is one of the best of any airline operating out of Heathrow.

“In addition to this, bmi has made a significant investment in technology such as online check in, self check in terminals and fast bag drops to help smooth the passenger’s passage through the airport. This also eases congestion whilst the airport facilities are catching up to demand.

“We are encouraged by the findings of this report and are sure that the new Terminal One re-development at Heathrow will offer business travellers the much needed improvements they demand. We hope that the decision-makers involved in the expansion consultation will take notice of the needs of British business.”

* For a copy of the report visit