Wednesday, September 5, 2012


In the first cabinet reshuffle since the Coalition Government took power, anti-third runway Transport Secretary Justine Greening has been ousted and Patrick McLoughlin has taken her place. Not much is known about Mr McLoughlin transport-wise, apart from the fact he has a fear of flying and he represents the most landlocked constituency in the UK.

No doubt, airport expansion, and the issue of a third runway at Heathrow in particular, will be top of his agenda this morning. Speaking on behalf of the business travel industry – if I may – I urge Mr McLoughlin to use this opportunity to put party politics to one side, to not succumb to the NIMBYs (not in my backyards) who will fight against expansion at whichever airport affects them most, and to focus solely on what’s good for UK PLC.

As the Government continues to dither and decisions are delayed, cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris – all with world-class, well-connected hubs – continue to attract global corporations and the UK continues to slide down the scale as a centre of global commerce. 

Our lack of airport capacity is also preventing us from introducing new routes to the BRIC countries, which is essential to fuel economic growth long term.

In my opinion, that means putting a plan in place to create a long term transport strategy that will support the UK as a centre for business and fuel its economy over the next 20-30 years. And in the short-medium term look to airports such as Gatwick, Luton and Stansted to ease the capacity issues at Heathrow that everyone is getting so blindsided by.

As event director of the Business Travel Show, I’d like to extend an invitation to Mr McLoughlin to address the business travel industry at our event in London next February where he will meet a very eager audience keen to question him about the issues affecting our business including airport expansion, APD, green taxes, and high speed rail and franchises.

David Chapple, event director Business Travel Show,