Glyn Jones calls for UK government action to solve capacity crisis


Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation

Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation, has called for the UK government to support ways to free up spare capacity at smaller airports across the UK.

He says this will help to alleviate the capacity crisis in the UK aviation industry. Airport capacity is now a significant issue at five out of London’s six airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City), with all of them near to full. Punctuality figures from the Civil Aviation Authority showed that, up until the end of August 2017, 27% of flights were delayed at Heathrow and almost 50% at Gatwick.

London Southend Airport, which is owned by Stobart Aviation, currently serves 1.2 million passengers every year but has the capacity and plans to grow this to 10 million. In its submission to the government’s consultation on the national aviation strategy, “Beyond the Horizon”, the airport has identified three straightforward ways for the government to help free up spare capacity at airports.

These are:

1. Reform of Air Passenger Duty – rather than abolition, remove APD on flights from smaller airports to encourage airlines to base more flights outside the larger airports.
2. Streamline the planning process – applying for planning consent to improve terminals and infrastructure is disproportionately expensive for smaller airports.
3. Government support for connecting infrastructure – smaller airports need better rail and road connections so passengers can more easily choose more local alternatives to Heathrow and Gatwick.

The benefits of growing airports extend beyond solving capacity problems. A published study using US data* found that an increase in the number of destinations served with non-stop flights from an airport has a strong impact on the level of employment, number of business establishments, and average wage in the airport’s region.

Jones (pictured) said: “With serious doubts that there will ever be a third runway at Heathrow, the government needs to address the airport capacity issue now. The good news is that there is lots of spare capacity in smaller airports up and down the country that, with a bit of support, could be freed up to help. Unless we act, our two biggest airports are just going to get fuller and fuller with delays and customer service getting worse and worse.”

* V Bilotkach Are Airports Engines of Economic Development? Urban Studies March 2015