Politicians and aviation experts discuss the future of aviation policy at CILT’s Liberal Democrat conference fringe debate in Glasgow

Posted: 10 October 2014 | The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport | No comments yet

CILT’s fringe debate at this week’s Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow saw key industry figures discuss their vision for the future of aviation to a packed room of industry professionals…


CILT’s fringe debate at this week’s Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow saw key industry figures discuss their vision for the future of aviation to a packed room of industry professionals. The panel consisted of Charles Kirwan-Taylor, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, Gatwick Airport; Stephen Gilbert MP; Amanda McMillan OBE, MD, Glasgow Airport; Nigel Milton, Director of Policy and Political Relations, Heathrow Airport; Guy Lavis, External Affairs Lead, Transport for London; Amanda McMillan OBE, MD, Glasgow Airport; Paul Le Blond, CILT Aviation Forum and Martin Evans, CILT Director in the Chair.

Charles Kirwan-Taylor began the discussion by expressing that Gatwick agree with much of the findings of CILT’s latest policy report The Future of Aviation.  He wished to highlight to the audience three key issues regarding the future of aviation. These were: the rise of low cost airlines, changes in aviation technology and changes in the pattern of global trends.

Charles told the audience that his vision for the future of aviation is a ‘network of competing airports’. For Charles, such a network would give choice, increase sustainability, increase the resilience of our airports system and would allow for optionality in the future. Charles believes this is good for passengers as it will increase service, create low-cost flights and will provide innovation for the future.

Amanda McMillan OBE of Glasgow Airport informed the audience of the ‘tremendous support from local communities, the business community and the government that aviation is good, and that it is a significant contributor to economic success.’ She claimed: ‘Glasgow airport is a huge barometer of the success of Glasgow as a city.’

Amanda noted that the issue of capacity in the south east must not go untouched and that for Glasgow, whatever the decision, it would be a very important part of their growth strategy and productivity. She stressed that: ‘Glasgow needs political decisions to be made about south-east capacity, as it affects the success of Glasgow and the Scottish economy.’

Guy Lavis, TfL claimed that the Airports Commission has got it wrong in its refusal to look beyond 2030. Guy claimed: ‘Even with a third runway at Heathrow it will fill up quickly, therefore we do not have a long-term solution’. Guy argued that whatever the option the Commission chooses next year it will not give a solution that will share the benefits of growth for the whole of the UK.  

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert expressed his agreement with the view that the Airports Commission decision should not just be for people in London and the south east and stressed the importance of getting the decision right for the whole of the UK.

Stephen also expressed that it’s not just airports and aeroplanes that are the problem, it is but also carbon and noise and that these issues should be at the centre of the debate.

Heathrow’s Nigel Milton spoke of the responsibility that Heathrow has to the people living around the airport in terms of careers and opportunities. Nigel stated that Heathrow’s vision for the future is to be able to compete with European competitors and to provide opportunities for the whole of the UK through access to emerging economies.

Paul Le Blond, joint author of CILT’s policy document The Future of Aviation, concluded the debate with a discussion of the report’s key conclusions.  Paul informed the audience that overall the Institute was optimistic that aviation will achieve improvements in terms of sustainability and noise within the climate change targets that have been set and told audience that in the report there is an emphasis on the improvements that surface access to airports can have to the aviation industry.

The thought-provoking visions from each of the panellists encouraged debate and a lively question and answer session from a packed room of key industry professionals.  CILT Director Martin Evans FCILT admirably chaired the discussion and encouraged questions from an informed audience.

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