IATA urges UK to prioritise aviation

IATA, the International Air Transport Association, has urged the UK government to “shore-up its international air connectivity” ahead of the country’s departure from the EU.

The organisation believes the government must also focus on the cost-effective expansion of Heathrow Airport.

"In building the post-Brexit world, the prosperity of the UK will depend on the strength of its connectivity - links with Europe and the rest of the world," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in an address to the UK Aviation Club this week.

De Juniac called an early resolution for aviation in the Brexit discussion. "Time is precious. The Brexit clock is ticking towards a deadline of March 2019. But the aviation deadline is earlier. Normally passengers can book travel about a year in advance.

“At a minimum, the flight schedules and seat and cargo inventories must be available at least six months in advance. So that puts the airlines’ deadline at October 2018 -just 11 months from now," said de Juniac.

"Don’t underestimate the amount of work ahead as there are intense political and commercial interests at stake," said de Juniac.

IATA is also urging the government to address severe capacity constraints in the South East of the UK by expanding Heathrow airport.

"Heathrow is where expansion should take place. I know the struggle to build a third runway has meant decades of frustration. But the UK will be left behind in the globally connected world if it does not come to a final decision and implement it," said de Juniac.

"Expanding Heathrow is about building prosperity. It should be a priority for the UK. And facing the post-Brexit world makes it even more urgent," said de Juniac.

However, de Juniac also cautioned against over-spending on development at Heathrow.

"The original estimates of £17billion were completely unacceptable. Heathrow Airport’s recently announced intention to reduce that cost is a step in the right direction.

“Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in the world from which to operate. It is essential that Heathrow’s charges do not rise from today’s levels. The construction of the third runway must enhance Heathrow’s competitiveness, not destroy it."