Aviation chief slams UK policies

Aviation chief says taxes, regulation hurting industry

The United Kingdom’s policies of taxation, inefficient regulation and limiting growth will destroy the country’s legacy, according to a top aviation expert.

“The UK has a great tradition of leadership in aviation. But any industry can only take so many knocks before the damage is permanent.

I respect the UK for its historic role but to write a successful next chapter, we must say ’basta [enough]’,” said Giovanni Bisignani, chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association.

Mr. Bisignani was speaking to London’s Aviation Club where he highlighted a series of issues including cost, capacity, weather and climate change.

Referring to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report, he said that the UK had been ranked at the bottom of 133 countries for cost, 129th on fuel prices and 121st on ticket taxes and airport charges.

UK ‘got it all wrong’

He said that the UK had ‘got it all wrong’ with recent decisions.

“While the global airline industry was cutting costs and improving efficiencies to survive, the regulator allowed British Airports Authority a 50 per cent increase for Heathrow charges.

He was even more generous for 2008-2013, with an 86 per cent increase. The economic regulatory model for airports is broken and must be urgently fixed.”

The CEO said that the decision to abandon plans for a third runway at Heathrow was limiting its growth compared to other European hubs and that the airport was becoming a secondary hub as a result.

Passenger inconvenience

Another severe winter, which had seen many cancellations – including flights to Grand Cayman – should have been better prepared for by the UK, he said.

“The inconvenience to passengers and the paralysis of the UK economy for many days is unacceptable from any perspective.

Shovelling snow is not the airline’s responsibility. The financial losses they suffered must be compensated, and we must approach next winter with a better plan.”

Finally, he said that the controversial Air Passenger Duty was enough to offset all UK emissions four times over.

“To borrow a UK phrase ‘this is potty’. Environment policy should not be designed around paying the bills for the government’s failure to effectively regulate the financial sector,” concluded Mr. Bisignani.

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