ABTA makes its stand on airport development

The UK’s Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, has submitted its opinions to the Airports Commission on how Britain’s airport infrastructure should be improved.

The UK’s well documented airport capacity problems have lead the Airport Commission to seek the views of interested parties on effective options that are also practical, in order to ease the situation.

Amidst fears that the British economy is suffering as a result of its restricted capacity for air traffic expansion, ABTA’s opinion is that the airport infrastructure in the South-East of England should be prioritised for urgent development. The organisation also suggests that attention is given to the mix of aviation models, as it believes that business and leisure travel should be viewed as interdependent and should be developed as such.

Key to ABTA’s submission is that the travel infrastructure around airports should be addressed to provide realistic, speedy access from major conurbations. ABTA supported this view with the results of its 2012 annual consumer survey, with 78 percent of respondents wanting a journey time to the airport of two hours or less. A preference for flying from a local airport also found favour with a large majority of 62 percent, and connecting flights were unpopular with a third of those canvassed. 90 percent of those questioned for the survey considered themselves air travellers.

ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said, ‘It’s essential that when the Government looks at airport capacity particularly in the South East, it recognises the interdependence of business and leisure travel and does not prioritise one over the other. It also needs a coherent policy on improving surface access to the airports. Passengers want short journeys to the airport and many are not willing to take connecting flights.

The Government needs to invest in efficient, fast public transport connections which will also help restrict the impact of flying on the environment and local residents. The extension of HS2 to run via Heathrow would be a firm declaration of intent and would undoubtedly prove a great success with passengers both from the UK and overseas.’