Aviation failed to show its importance in Ash Cloud aftermath
Friday 12, November 2010
The airline industry should have seized the opportunity to show its value to economies in the aftermath of the ash cloud crisis, a WTM panel concluded.
Airlines failed to show the importance of aviation to the global economy during the closure of much of Europe’s airspace when trade and tourism was deeply affected. This failure means the industry will remain a target for increased taxation, leading experts agreed during the Airline Industry in Turnaround debate.
Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport, Chief Executive said the industry’s problem was that it “lacked an Al Gore figure” to promote it. Emirates’ President Tim Clark admitted: “We were too busy trying to sort out the mess to turn it to our advantage and spin it out.”
As a result, airlines received huge compensation bills from passengers. In addition, the failure to lobby properly in the past means the industry now faces an increased taxation burden from Air Passenger Duty.
Colin Matthews, BAA Chief Executive, said airlines had become an easy target for a revenue-hungry government. He said the current highest level of APD of £170 compared with a maximum in Europe of Euros 45.
“That is positively encouraging someone to fly a less carbon efficient route by going via one of our competitor hubs,” he said. “It also discourages a Chinese tourist from coming here. France has six times the number of Chinese tourists that the UK gets.”
Clark warned Emirates could easily reconsider its position in the UK if need be and switch capacity to other European hubs.
“People will start to make an alternative choice and possibly fly via Europe. We will do what we have to do as demand falls off, which I certainly hope we will not have to do.”
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