‘Back Bristol Airport’ call by Institute of Directors

October 20, 2011

The Institute of Directors (IoD) in the South West has called for stronger backing for Bristol Airport to ensure it develops further, including introducing more flights to European and Middle East business destinations and the return of the direct service to the US.

IoD regional chairman Gerry Jones made the call today in response to a UK-wide survey among IoD members which highlights the importance of aviation to the economy.

He said that more should be done to help Bristol Airport succeed at a time when London’s main airports are facing capacity restraints and the Coalition is opposing their further development, including a third runway at Heathrow.

“Bristol Airport is eight miles outside the city and can be difficult to find yet it has moved more than 5.7m passengers this year,” said Mr Jones.

“EasyJet offers flights to Europe and within the UK, and the addition of the Western Walkway linking the two terminals has meant a big improvement.

“However, we still need an airport hotel, more parking near the terminal, more full-service flights to Germany, Scandinavia and the Middle East, and the return of a direct flight to the US. To handle the extra volume of passengers we need more security positions to reduce passenger queues.

“Flying from Bristol is so much easier than London so we should support our local airport. The planned closure of Plymouth Airport and BMI Baby’s decision to leaving Cardiff shows us that if we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.”

The IoD survey on airports was staged in reply to the Government’s consultation Developing a Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation.

Key findings were:

  • 48% of IoD members believe that airport capacity expansion outside of London and the South East would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business. Just 2% believe it would have a negative impact on their productivity. 
  • 40% believe that airport capacity expansion (through new runways or mixed-mode runway use) in London and the South East would have a positive impact on the productivity of their business, compared with just 4% who think it would have a negative impact. 

IoD director general Simon Walker said: “Aviation is vital to UK trade and investment. But we are already falling behind our competitors in Europe. We urge the Government to be bold when drawing up its final framework, and to consider such ideas as a new hub airport in the Thames estuary, as suggested by the Mayor of London – if it can be done in Hong Kong, there is no reason why it can’t be done here.

“More important than anything else is that the Government makes its decision quickly. The IoD would like to see concrete proposals for more capacity in specific locations, and when proposals come forward they should be dealt with in no longer than 12 months. We cannot have another debacle like Terminal 5, were it took eight years for a decision to be made.”  

The IoD says UK is falling behind its competitors. Germany, France and the Netherlands all have hub airports with more capacity, serving more destinations. Heathrow serves 192 destinations, compared with 291 for Frankfurt, 277 for Amsterdam and 257 for Paris while UK air links with China are particularly poor compared to European airports.

Continental Airways scrapped its daily Bristol-New York flights last November, blaming rising air passenger duty charges and the weakness of the pound.

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