Sean Doyle of British Airways (BA), and MPs Mike Harper and the lesser known Mike Kane all spoke of the future at Airlines 2023, held once again last month at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Westminster, backed by Airlines UK, BARUK, IATA and Flight Global.
Opening speaker Sean Doyle, CEO of BA, voiced concerns over the newly implemented Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) regulation in the United Kingdom, which he believes could significantly impact the airline's competitive edge. He highlighted the challenges posed by the £10 permit application required for visa-exempt travellers, including a potential delay for business travellers if documentation is not processed promptly.
When it came to sustainable fuel, very topical, he struck a pessimistic note, BA at the forefront of the supply situation. “We’re struggling just to get the ball rolling and getting plants built”. On a more positive note he said that BA, late into the full provision of wi-fi, was now rolling the connection out “across the fleet”.
It is just over one year since Mike Harper became Secretary of State for Transport. He has certainly been getting about since his appointment. Asked about a third runway at Heathrow he reiterated the Government’s stance. “It’s a commercial decision which we will certainly look at”.
Speaking later on the subject “How will the UK meet its future aviation infrastructure demand?” Chris Annetts, Chief Executive Strategy Officer at Heathrow airport put it this way.
"The question is how do you deliver [airport expansion] and when does it come? That’s the big question that we’re now discussing with Thomas [the new boss and former Copenhagen Airport CEO Thomas Woldbye] joining us about a month ago. We are now actively reviewing that and trying to work out the answer to that question".
Mike Kane, Shadow Aviation Minister and MP for the Manchester Wythenshawe constituency came across as a “total aviation person” mentioning the BAC 1-11 and Hawker Siddeley Trident in his presentation. He is clearly enjoying his current position but when asked if one of the great offices of state might come his way, he was strangely reticent.
The day concluded with Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, in what was described as a “fire side chat with Philip Georgiadis of the Financial Times as moderator. Sir Tim was bullish, noting that Emirates was filling six Airbus A380s at Heathrow every day, and doing very well at all seven UK airports – Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle and Stansted.
“The aircraft will be about well into the 2030s”, he said. “Some airlines retired them too early”, perhaps a dig at Air France, whose fleet has gone. Simon Calder, of The Independent, asked in a roundabout way if Sir Tim was thinking about retirement. “I am still enthusiastic about the industry”, was the retort.
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