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Business leaders' air links concern

Fewer than half of senior financial decision-makers are satisfied with UK air links to existing, traditional overseas markets and emerging overseas markets, according to a survey.

And fewer than two in five have confidence that the solutions put forward by Sir Howard Davies's Government-commissioned Airports Commission to address long-term connectivity needs will be delivered.

These are the key findings of a ComRes survey commissioned by the Airport Operators Association (AOA), which questioned 500 UK senior business decision-makers this month.

The poll comes ahead of the Annual AOA Conference today and tomorrow which will see Sir Howard delivering a keynote address.

The survey also comes just two months before the Airports Commission is due to publish an interim report setting out a shortlist of options for maintaining the UK's status as an international hub for aviation.

The survey found:

:: Fewer than half (49%) of senior financial decision-makers in the UK say that they are very or fairly satisfied with UK air links to existing, traditional overseas markets;

:: Just two-fifths (43%) say they are satisfied with UK air links to emerging overseas markets;

:: Only 37% say they have confidence that the Airports Commission's solutions for the UK's long-term connectivity needs will be delivered, with a similar proportion (36%) saying they do not have confidence the solutions will be delivered.

Darren Caplan, the AOA chief executive, said: "Aviation is a hugely important sector for UK plc.

"Yet this survey reveals there is a feeling amongst a wide section of the business community that - despite the UK having the third largest aviation network in the world, after the US and China - we could be doing much better in terms of our connectivity with existing and emerging markets."

He went on: "To deliver the UK's future air connectivity we need both vibrant point-to-point airports and sufficient world class capacity, and the Airports Commission's work is crucial to ensure we have this in the years ahead.

"So it is worrying that there are so many doubts from business that the commission's findings will get implemented, at a time when international rivals are growing their ties with the fast-growing economies of the future.

"The AOA supports the commission, continues to call on it to consider all options looking at airport growth, urges it to stick to its timetable of delivering its final report no later than summer 2015, and encourages the political parties to commit to acting on the findings of the commission."


From Belfast Telegraph