Leading Conservative backbencher Graham Brady urged government to make a “quick decision” on the new runway in the South East, either following the Airports Commission’s recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow, or “offering an alternative based on the Commission’s findings.”

Brady, MP for Altringham and Sale West, and chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, was addressing delegates at the GTMC autumn conference in London.

He pointed out that the first group set up by government to find a site for South East airport commission was the Roskill Commission, appointed in 1968, and he said it was widely hoped the current commission, headed by Howard Davies, would end the “sorry history of politicians failing to make progress with airport expansion.”

Brady said there are 26 emerging market destinations that are currently served by direct daily flights from European hubs, but not from London. He also pointed out London lags behind Paris and Frankfurt in flight frequencies to mainland China.

“Air travel is vital to our economy, and after decades of dither and delay we need action, there is no time to lose,” he said.  

Also speaking at the conference was Graham Pickett, lead partner for travel, hospitality and leisure at accountancy giant Deloitte.

He said while GDP growth in the developed economies of Europe and the US are projected to pick up in 2015, emerging markets are seeing a slowdown. China’s growth rate, while still an impressive 6.8 per cent, is the lowest in 25 years, he said.

However the US/EU GDP growth rises are from a low base, with Europe still “in the doldrums” – the 27 EU countries are forecast a 1.9 per cent y-o-y rise this year compared to 1.4 per cent in 2014.

The UK was one of the best performers in Europe, with 2.5 per cent GDP growth forecast for 2015. In terms of UK business travel spending, Pickett predicted 4.62 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2020.

Pickett said global over-capacity in airlines is “generally positive to the business consumer, in that pricing will be influenced.” The US airlines are introducing more capacity discipline than those in Europe, he said.

Among the economic challenges he cited for 2016 were the UK referendum on EU membership, the continuing Greek financial crisis – “all we’ve done is kick the can down the track” – volatility in oil and forex markets, and a “looming Chinese banking crisis.”    

Subscribe to the BBT Newsletter

Join the Buying Business Travelk newsletter for the latest business travel buying news.

Thank you for signing up!