4th December 2006

Paying same old piper to play same old tunes

The aviation industry has today (4 December) published a report hailing the contribution of aviation to the UK economy. ‘The Economic Contribution of the Aviation Industry in the UK’ has been produced by consultancy firm OEF and was commissioned and paid for by the aviation industry. It follows similar reports produced for the industry in 1999 and 2002 by the same consultancy firm. In Stop Stansted Expansion’s view, the report is wholly lacking in independence and does not deserve to be taken seriously.

Brian Ross, Economics Adviser to Stop Stansted Expansion commented: “The OEF report is reminiscent of the sort of reports the tobacco industry used to produce many years ago when trying to convince us that smoking was good for our health.”

The genuinely independent statistics produced by the Office of National Statistics show that air travel cost the UK economy a record £19bn on its balance of payments in 2005 – up from a deficit of only £2bn just ten years ago.

In addition, the recent report carried out on behalf of the Government by Sir Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist of the World Bank, concluded that the climate change impact of UK aviation is at least £6bn a year and possibly as high as £12bn a year.

In the meantime the aviation industry continues to enjoy the benefit of a total exemption from fuel duty and VAT. If airlines had to pay the same fuel duty and VAT as the motorist, the revenues raised would amount to £9bn a year.

Brian Ross concluded: “There undoubtedly was a time when aviation made a major contribution to the UK economy but you need to go back quite a long time to the days when the UK was a major manufacturer of the world’s aircraft, when our airlines ruled the skies and when foreign tourists coming to Britain spent as much money as British people travelling abroad. Today however it is a very different story and no matter how many consultants the industry pays for its own PR purposes it cannot disguise the fact that the industry’s present growth rate is wholly unsustainable both economically and environmentally.”

Official reference sources for all of the figures quoted in this release are available on request.

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits