Your article "Squeezed out" (Flight International, 22-28 April) comes at an important time for general aviation and GA airports, particularly in the UK, where the government is finalising its 30-year airport strategy.
The 1985 Airports Policy White Paper stepped away from the system adopted in the 1978 White Paper for categorising airports into four types (gateway international, regional, local and GA airports). This system was discontinued in 1990. Government policy today is that airports should be free to compete and to provide the necessary facilities to enable airlines (and other operators) to meet demand. Concentration of traffic, they believe, will occur naturally as a result of the free market without needing formal categorisations.
This open approach is not always interpreted in local planning policies. For example, Southampton airport was granted planning consent to expand operations, but light aviation was to be limited to no more than 10,000 flights. Farnborough was authorised to have 28,000 business aviation movements, no passenger flights and no light aviation flights except its small flying club. These policies are imposed by local authorities.
Planning agreements between airports and their local authorities invariably end in a trade-off and GA can be the loser. But GA cannot sustain the cost of operating a commercial airport in today's regulatory and legal environment.
There are concerns about operating light and commercial aircraft side by side, but in the USA this works well at many airports. It could work as well in the UK.
Andrew Walters Chief Executive, Regional Airports, Hook, UK
Source: Flight International