The UK government has announced the setting up of an independent commission to look at ways to increase airport capacity in the southeast of the country.
Patrick McLoughlin, the new transport secretary, has announced that former CBI chief, Sir Howard Davies, will head the new commission. The commission will be investigating ways of adding capacity at airports, in order that the UK may retain its supremacy as the most significant aviation hub in Europe. It will also offer guidelines for implementing additional capacity at UK airports.
The commission will be required to publish its report by the summer of 2015 and present it to the new government, which is expected to have taken control by that time.
Patrick McLoughlin said in a statement, ‘This is a very difficult debate, but the reality is that since the 1960s Britain has failed to keep pace with our international competitors in addressing long term aviation capacity and connectivity needs.
Germany, France and the Netherlands have all grown their capacity more extensively than the UK over the years, and so are better equipped, now and in the future, to connect with the fast growing markets of emerging economies.
The government believes that maintaining the UK’s status as a leading global aviation hub is fundamental to our long-term international competitiveness. But the government is also mindful of the need to take full account of the social, environmental and other impacts of any expansion in airport capacity.’
Airport capacity is currently a contentious issue in the UK, with divided opinion on the upgrading of existing airports or the construction of new ones.