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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

Airports want revamped aviation policy to boost regional growth

Manchester Airports Group chief executive has called on the government to develop a new aviation policy following the approval of a third runway at Heathrow.

Charlie Cornish said the group’s airports, which include Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth, are among the most “significant drivers of economic growth” in those regions.

“With the decision on Heathrow now made, Government must quickly commit to developing a new aviation policy that will maximise these opportunities for both the country as a whole and the regions that our airports serve,” said Cornish.

“The short-term priority for Government must be to make the most of the runways we already have in the 10-15 year period before any new runway is ready and we are calling on them to support faster rail services to Stansted and reduce aviation taxes to encourage new connections from Manchester, particularly to key long haul markets.”

His comments follow MAG’s half-year results, which shows record passenger number growth.

Traffic was up 7.7 per cent year-on-year to 32 million with Manchester airport now serving more than 25 million passengers per year for the first time in its history and Stansted handling over 24 million.

Increased revenues have also been driven by the completion of terminal renovations at Stansted and East Midlands – with retail revenue across the Group up 11 per cent on last year, compared with the first six months the previous year.

MAG added that the new direct service from Manchester to Beijing with Hainan Airlines in June 2016 has been a huge success, with load factors at 90 per cent over the summer.


Charlie Cornish's comments make a lot of sense. But I would make it clear that government support should restrict itself to infrastructure connections to airports. The airport industry has been hugely successful since it was set-up on a commercial basis generally free of subsidy in 1985/6.
On APD the government should devise a way of reducing APD on airports that are generally free of congestion (e.g.MAG). There is little point in reducing APD for Heathrow flights for example: this would boost profits for LHR airlines, the majority of which are foreign owned.

David Starkie's picture
David Starkie (not verified)

I think what Mr Cornish meant was something along the lines of this... that after the confirmation of LHR R3, assuming that is the case next year, the government should commit to incorporating UK runway and general infrastructure policy into its support for the regions in the form of so-called 'Northern Powerhouse' and 'Midlands Engine,' both of which are on life support right now but not yet dead. But I fear Mrs May missed her chance. She could have said that along with the Heathrow announcement, demonstrating she's starting with a clean sheet and that Davies is history now. The problem is that she has a new Transport Minister, who has a brief the size of War & Peace and aviation is well doen the pevking order now everything is 'settled.'. He isn't going to make any decisons of his own for a long time yet - they'll be made by the entrenched civil service - and by the time he's able to he'll be down the road as well. So in short, nothing's going to happen any time soon.

D Bentley's picture
D Bentley (not verified)

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