Early and decisive steps to develop runway capacity in the South East combined with action to maximise the use of regional airports is essential if future demand for air travel is to be met. That is the view of chief executive of the Airport Operators Association Keith Jowatt.
'If we don't sort out the capacity issue now, in 10 years the possibility of travelling the world freely, visiting friends, will be severely constrained. In effect leisure travel will be priced out of the market, ' he says bluntly.
The AOA has been lobbying government hard on the runway issue, to make sure it takes the bold decisions that the AOA thinks are necessary.
'We want clear direction on future capacity and in the south that has to mean more runway capacity, ' Jowatt says. 'In the regions there has to be a decision to allow better use of the capacity that already exists.'
AOA represents the 71 airports in the UK and Channel Islands and has two prime roles. One is the interface with government, public and the media; the other is sharing best practice between operators.
Not surprisingly the capacity issue has been taking up a lot of its time but the organisation has also been focusing on other key areas like safety, environment and security.
Environment, in particular sustainability, is high on the agenda. The AOA has recently produced a guidance manual which tells operators how to best control, for example, aircraft noise, surface access emissions, waste management, birds and contaminated land.
As part of its briefing to government for the aviation White Paper, the AOA has urged that all future policy must be sustainable. By this it means any measures must include consideration of economic and employment benefits and mitigation of environmental impact as well as responding to the need for more facilities to allow more planes to land in the UK.
INFOPLUS tel 020 7222 2249 e-mail info@aoa. org. uk