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Chairman’s statement

UK regulation

At home, we continue to argue for a root and branch shake-up of the way the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulates BAA airports. The Department for Transport is undertaking a consultation on this issue and the aim must be to create a system that works for all users of UK airports – passengers and airlines, alike. We need to see the necessary infrastructure and services developed in an efficient way using a system of charging that does not over-reward the airport operator.

Separately, BAA is being required by the Competition Commission to sell Gatwick and Stansted airports, as well as Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Our focus is ensuring that Heathrow has a real champion. We believe Ferrovial, BAA’s parent, can fulfil that role. But while it controls all three of London’s main airports there is always a concern that resources will be spread too thinly.

Runway 3

A third runway at Heathrow is essential to the airport’s development and vital to London and the wider UK economy. A lack of capacity to effectively compete in the transfer market has already seen Heathrow slip behind competitors such as Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. So we are pleased the government is in favour of expansion and believes that strict environmental conditions can be met.

We are convinced that we can meet those conditions for a bigger Heathrow in terms of emissions and noise with the new Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft we have on order, through changes in operating procedures, and through pressing for wider changes in the industry.

This will remain a politically divisive issue up to and beyond the UK general election. However, the idea put forward by groups opposed to the expansion, that high speed rail is an alternative to a third runway, is a fallacy. We support the development of high speed rail links to the north of England, but they will not improve the UK’s access to expanding markets in China, India and other rapidly developing economies. Only a third runway can do that.

Climate change

Action to tackle climate change must not be deferred because of the current economic crisis. Developed countries have a moral duty to lead on this just as they must lead on tackling the financial crisis. Ultimately it will be the world’s poorest countries that will suffer most from failure.

Business must play its part fully, too. We certainly do not intend to let up on our efforts to control our own emissions. As Willie explains overleaf, we have set ourselves tough carbon reduction targets that are genuinely industry-leading.

Here, I think we can have some cause to be optimistic. President Obama has quickly reversed his predecessor’s opposition to an international Cap and Trade scheme to control carbon. Once we have the EU and the US cooperating on a global system – one that includes aviation – we can start to tackle climate change with real vigour.

I am also encouraged that commercially viable bio-kerosene may well be a reality within the next decade or so. Not so long ago that seemed a very distant dream indeed.


Target net CO2 reduction by 2050, relative to 2005

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