Business leaders see air travel as ‘key to future prospects’ – survey


Nearly two-thirds (64%) of business leaders see domestic and international travel as “key to their future prospects”, a new survey suggests.

The research, commissioned by London City Airport, also indicated that 48% believe the Government’s quarantine restrictions are the biggest barrier to business air travel.

Confidence when travelling would be increased by introducing airport Covid-19 testing, according to 76% of respondents.

A total of 515 business leaders were polled.

London City also commissioned consultancy WPI Strategy to produce a report into the impact of aviation to the economy.

The study estimated that domestic aviation was worth £15 billion to the UK’s annual GDP before the pandemic.

This included £4 billion for Scotland, £2 billion for Northern Ireland, £1 billion for north-west England and £80 million for Wales.

The UK’s policy of requiring arrivals from non-exempt countries to self-isolate for 14 days has been blamed as a major factor in the slow recovery of air travel during the pandemic.

Last week, the Government unveiled a task force to develop a coronavirus testing system as a potential way of easing restrictions.

London City chief executive Robert Sinclair urged the group to move quickly to give business air travel “a much-needed shot in the arm”.

He said: “We know the demand for air travel is there, but restrictive quarantine measures are currently holding business leaders back from flying, and the UK economy from beginning its recovery.

“We sincerely hope that the Global Travel Taskforce both acknowledges how fundamental business travel is and moves quickly to introduce a roadmap for aviation which sets out how a testing regime can be implemented quickly.”

In September, London City announced plans to cut more than a third of jobs at the airport due to passenger numbers being well below normal levels.

A number of business leaders and politicians backed Mr Sinclair’s pleas on testing.

Confederation of British Industry director of infrastructure and energy Tom Thackray said: “To get passengers flying again safely, it is essential that industry and Government work together to tackle major barriers, including enabling the introduction of testing as an alternative to quarantine.”

Conservative former minister Stephen Hammond, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on business travel, said: “The economic recovery will be led by the business community and the ability to travel will be key.

“I hope the Government will prioritise the need to allow safe travel including pre-travel testing and a new quarantine regime so business can get back to travelling and building a strong economic recovery.”

Marshall Dallas, chief executive of Edinburgh International Conference Centre, said: “We strongly support the option of airport testing, which will undoubtedly have less of an impediment to our clients’ conferences than ongoing quarantine regulations.”

The Global Travel Taskforce is being chaired by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

It is expected to make its initial recommendations next month.