Manchester Airports Group boss calls for regional perspective in aviation debate
The head of the Manchester airports group, that owns Manchester and Stansted airports, among others, says the government must not forget about its pledge to tackle the North-South divide when setting aviation policy.Speaking at the RunwaysUK event in Manchester on 2nd December, Charlie Cornish said there is more to the debate than just looking at boosting capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick – as is the proposal by the Airports Commission. He said there was a “strong economic case” for regional airports to be “more than spokes” serving a southern hub, as he cited investments by Emirates and Etihad which have created hundreds of jobs in the North West. “There should be a network of competing airports in the UK, especially if you consider the opportunity presented by rail enhancements. With HS2 and HS3 there is an opportunity for regions in the UK to actually start to narrow the North- South divide. The Chancellor’s support for the Northern Powerhouse is fundamentally important to rebalancing the UK economy.” MAG expects their airports to “grow irrespective of the decisions made on Heathrow or Gatwick”
MAG boss calls for regional perspective in aviation debate
3rd December 2014
By Chris Barry – Editor, North West (The Business Desk)
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group
THE government must not forget about its pledge to tackle the North-South divide when setting aviation policy, the boss of Manchester Airports Group has said.
Speaking to TheBusinessDesk at the Runways UK event on Tuesday, Charlie Cornish said there is more to the debate than just looking at boosting capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick – as is the proposal by the Airports Commission.
Mr Cornish said there was a “strong economic case” for regional airports to be “more than spokes” serving a southern hub, as he cited investments by Emirates and Etihad which have created hundreds of jobs in the North West.
He said: “There should be a network of competing airports in the UK, especially if you consider the opportunity presented by rail enhancements.
“With HS2 and HS3 there is an opportunity for regions in the UK to actually start to narrow the North- South divide.
“The Chancellor’s support for the Northern Powerhouse is fundamentally important to rebalancing the UK economy. If we look at High Speed 2 coming to the Manchester Airport and we get east- west connectivity in rail improvements too then that’s going to change the northern base.”
He added: “When the government starts to think about how they want the UK to develop, they have to think more than the outputs from the South East, but all of the outputs from all the rail investment propositions, the Northern Powerhouse and what they want to do about the North South divide. It’s not just a simple matter.”
He said that he expects his two largest assets, Manchester and Stansted to continue to grow regardless of the Airport Commission’s final recommendations.
In the next five years he said Manchester’s passenger growth would rise from 22 million to more than 25 million, while Stansted, which is operating a 50% capacity would double in size by 2030.
“Our plans will see MAG airports grow irrespective of the decisions made on Heathrow or Gatwick,” he said.
In the government’s National Infrastructure Plan 2014
6.5 Aviation in the UK is largely privately owned and managed, and the government believes that a competitive aviation market is the most effective way to meet the interests of
air passengers and other users. The government’s role is primarily to uphold a strong
international and domestic regulatory framework which ensures a level playing field and
the maintenance of high standards of safety and security. Within this framework the Civil
Aviation Authority is responsible for regulating airports which pass a market power test
under the Civil Aviation Act 2012 (currently Heathrow and Gatwick).
6.6 In order to ensure that the UK is well placed to maintain its aviation hub capability, the
government has appointed an independent Airports Commission to examine the scale and
timing of airport capacity needs in the South East and to identify how they should be met.
The Commission has been asked to assess the options for meeting the UK’s international
connectivity needs, and recommend the optimum approach to meet those needs.
6.7 The government also recognises the importance of maximising the capacity and
connectivity of existing airport infrastructure. This includes:
• encouraging ongoing programmes of private investment at airports across the UK
• optimising existing capacity through the adoption of innovative operational
approaches and new technology
• taking action to improve the quality of surface transport links to existing airports
6.8 The government is also taking action to maintain regional air access to London where
there is the probability that an existing service would be lost, and to allow start-up aid for
new routes from UK regional airports handling fewer than 5 million passengers per annum,
in order to underpin the role of aviation in promoting local growth and connectivity.
6.9 Across all these measures, the government’s policy is to manage the environmental
impact of aviation including limiting and, where possible, reducing the number of people in
the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise.
16.13 In the aviation sector the decision has been taken to move away from a geographic split (South East and Regional Airports) to priority investments which address objectives more directly (Airport Infrastructure Improvements and Airport Connectivity).
Full list of Top 40 priority infrastructure investments in NIP 2014 includes the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road in projects up to 2020 /21
3.17 As part of RIS1, the government has also asked the new Strategic Highways Company to explore the feasibility of further transformational investments including:
• consideration of further improvements for trans-pennine connectivity from Manchester
to Sheffield, raising the level of future ambition and determining if there is an historic
opportunity to link two of our great northern cities; this work will be taken forward with
Transport for the North as part of the development of the wider Northern transport