LCY Airport CEO stresses importance of business air travel recovery

Ella Castle

Robert Sinclair has emphasised the importance of business air travel to the economic recovery prospects of the UK after the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of domestic and international travel to the economic prospects of individual businesses and the wider economy has been highlighted in a new report by WPI Strategy. […]

Robert Sinclair has emphasised the importance of business air travel to the economic recovery prospects of the UK after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The importance of domestic and international travel to the economic prospects of individual businesses and the wider economy has been highlighted in a new report by WPI Strategy. The report reveals that the majority of UK business leaders see air travel as key to their future economic prospects and would return to the skies if quarantine measures were eased.

According to new polling of 515 business leaders contained within the report: 

  • Sixty-four per cent of UK business leaders see air travel as key to their future prospects
  • Eighty-eight per cent of leaders of businesses with over 250 employees believe air travel is important to the future success of their business
  • Forty-eight per cent thought that the UK government’s travel and quarantine restrictions was the single biggest barrier to business air travel
  • Seventy-six per cent believe that airport testing would increase confidence when travelling.

Following the report, the Chief Executive Officer of London City Airport (LCY) has urged the UK government’s new Global Travel Taskforce to move quickly to get business air travel up and running again.

Welcoming the creation of the taskforce as a positive first step forward, Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer of London City Airport, said that he hoped that the group would “acknowledge the fundamental importance of business air travel to the economic recovery prospects of the UK and other sectors, such as hospitality and leisure.”

Sinclair, supported by a range of industry and political voices, urged the taskforce to move with the utmost speed, setting out a clear roadmap for the introduction of a testing regime which would ultimately lead to the elimination of quarantine. This call is also supported by KLM, who operate services from their global hub in Amsterdam to 15 airports across the UK.

Sinclair said: “The UK aviation industry is the third largest in the world and a global success story. But it is not just an industry itself, it also acts as an enabler of other industries, such as trade, tourism, hospitality, imports, exports and conferences. We know that the demand for air travel is there, but restrictive quarantine measures are currently holding business leaders back from flying, and the UK economy from beginning its recovery.”

“We sincerely hope that the Global Travel Taskforce both acknowledges how fundamental business travel is and moves quickly to introduce a roadmap for aviation which sets out how a testing regime can be implemented quickly. Doing so could deliver a much-needed shot in the arm for business air travel, boosting economic growth across every region and every sector,” he added. 

New data within the report also underlines the importance of domestic aviation to the UK economy. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the total value of domestic aviation in the UK was in the order of £15 billion.

Proportionate to passenger numbers, the authors of the report breakdown the impact of domestic aviation on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by UK regions and nations as in the order of:

  • Scotland: £4 billion
  • North-East: £300 million
  • North-West: £1 billion
  • Northern Ireland: £2 billion
  • South-West: £700 million 
  • London: £4 billion
  • Midlands: £500 million
  • Wales (just Cardiff): £80 million.

Sinclair was backed by business leaders and politicians from across the UK who are concerned that the government’s plans for levelling up the country and increasing the UK’s trade links could be at risk without a speedy introduction of testing.

Warner Rootliep, Managing Director of KLM Cityhopper, said: “KLM has a long standing commitment to serve the UK regions. We have rebuilt our regional presence in the UK over the last few months, reopening all routes. Connecting the UK regions to the world through our hub in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is of vital importance to the regional economy of these communities, especially in these challenging times. We hope that the taskforce will be able to define a roadmap that will allow us to eliminate the quarantine measures and reinstall travel confidence so that we can continue to rebuild our regional frequencies that is so vital for the regional economy.”

Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Richard Burge, said: “If London is to return to being a world city, then we need a thriving aviation sector, and we need effective ways of testing for COVID-19 at our borders. Of course, aviation isn’t just vital to London’s recovery alone. Whether it’s through travel and trade into London and then onward in the UK, or arrivals and departures in other UK cities and regions, London-based aviation is intrinsic to our national and regional economies, and to a great extent the economy of much of the world. If the government are serious about both ‘Global Britain’ and ‘levelling up’, then they need to have immediate and genuine discussions with the sector about the urgent introduction of airport testing and a targeted support package.  ”

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