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Peel Airports Limited, owners of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, have submitted their response to the Department for Transport’s Proposal for a Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation, calling for the Government to recognise the benefits that regional airports have on their local economies and develop aviation policies that encourage sustainable growth.

The department for Transport’s scoping document was launched in March 2011. It framed the debate and asked a series of questions for response by a wide range of stakeholders on the future direction of aviation policy.

In a detailed response, Peel Airports have highlighted concerns that the proposals put forward, fail to set out a clear aviation policy that would grow the industry’s contribution to both the regional and national economies, with the intention to constrain growth by supressing demand for air travel. Such policies are in stark contrast to the Government’s stated aims of the policy, which stated "……We want to explore how to create the right conditions for regional airports to flourish."

UK aviation already pays the highest aviation tax in the world and with further increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) planned, in addition to the EU wide Emissions Trading Scheme taxation that commences in January 2012, the proposed policy framework fails to address this issue. UK airports are now far less attractive options for airline business than many of their European competitors, whose own Governments abolished their equivalent of APD. Under these latest proposals, this lack of a ‘level playing field’ is set to continue.

Travel behaviour in the regions is price led and further increases in air fares due to higher taxation will price a large proportion of passengers out of air travel.

High Speed Rail is seen by the Government as a substitution for domestic and European short haul aviation, however, UK domestic aviation is almost non-existent. This scheme will simply bring greater economic benefits for a small number of airports and those regions to be served by High Speed Rail, at the expense of others.

Peel Airports also questions the validity of passenger forecasts used in developing the Government’s proposals which show only minimal growth over the next 20 years, having failed to recognise a variety of developments across the regions served by the Peel Airports, which will undoubtedly help to stimulate growth in air travel.

Craig Richmond, Peel Airports CEO commented, "We welcome the Government’s review on future aviation policy, however we have one chance to get this right, otherwise regional airports and the regions they serve will have their economies damaged for the long term.

"The Government have stated on numerous occasions in the past that it recognises the importance of aviation for economic growth and rebalancing of the UK economy. Sadly these latest proposals contradict the desire for aviation related growth and we are calling upon the Government to implement a long-sighted aviation policy that appreciates the benefits to regional economies that aviation connections bring and supports growth in our industry whilst maintaining the balanced approach towards minimising the environmental impact."

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