This fine and sunny morning (yes, I’m serious!) I headed into London to attend a presentation at the Institute of Directors (which represents 52,000 business directors) to unveil the results of a survey sponsored by UK carrier bmi entitled “High Fliers: business leaders’ view on air travel”. Now forgive me for not being blown away by one of the main points raised by the survey, which is that, wait for it, drum roll…..most business organisations use air travel at some point. Well blow me down with a feather! Who’d've thought it?!
However, once I’d scraped myself off the floor and recovered from the shock revelation that UK businesses actually need to do the odd bit of travelling from time to time, there were actually some interesting points in the survey. For instance, of the 500 IoD members surveyed, half agree that air fares should be higher “in order that the aviation industry pays its full environmental costs”. This is not something you see very often, particularly as we head towards a possible recession when travel budgets are normally one of the first things to be cut.
The IoD is also using the survey to throw its weight behind the argument in favour of building a third runway at London Heathrow, pointing out that 70% of respondents agree that UK airport capacity should be expanded over the next 20 years. Expect more arguments in favour of the third runway as we approach the end of the government consultation into Heathrow expansion – my inbox when I returned to the office contained press releases from both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, calling for the third runway to be approved.
And in the against camp, Greenpeace made its feelings crystal clear this morning as campaigers climbed on top of a BA aircraft at Heathrow and dropped a banner saying “Climate emergency – no third runway” (see picture). Whatever your feelings on airport expansion, this stunt certainly raises serious security concerns that BAA will no doubt be facing a grilling over!