The travel industry has reacted with dismay to reports that the government is set to delay its consultation on expanding airport capacity in the south-east to the autumn.
Transport secretary Justine Greening is expected to delay the impending airport capacity consultation until the autumn – the second time it has been delayed this year.
British Airways’ owner IAG said: “It looks like the government has stumbled before it has started. While we prevaricate, other countries like China and Middle East states storm ahead. Every delay is another step backwards for Britain.”
The consultation had originally been scheduled for March but was then delayed “until the summer” with the industry expecting it to be published before politicians start their summer holidays on July 17.
But now Greening is set to push the consultation into the autumn adding to speculation that the coalition government is deeply divided over the issue – particularly about a possible third runway at Heathrow. The transport secretary is instead due to publish an aviation policy document covering subjects such as emissions, noise levels and regional airports.
BAR UK chief executive Mike Carrivick said: “Delaying important decisions until later in the year demonstrates a lack of courage and the paralysis afflicting strategic policy making within the government.
“While this government struggles internally to establish a clear and defined hub airport policy for the future, competing nations will continue to take away the trade and commerce that should be welcomed in this country.
“BAR calls on the government to act decisively sooner rather than later and warns that continued prevarication is damaging to business and employment prospects.”
Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), added: “The government has spent years working on a strategy for UK aviation, so reports that there will be yet more delays beggar belief.
“Businesses are tired of indecision and equivocation on aviation. Ministers can’t tell businesses to look for new opportunities in emerging markets like Brazil and China, and then fail to provide the basic infrastructure needed to get there.
“The consequences of inaction are stark. If the government does not act swiftly to increase capacity in the south-east, strengthen our regional airports, and support the development of more connections to emerging markets, the UK will lose both investment and jobs.”
Report by Rob Gill
This article was originally published on our sister website abtn.co.uk