Lord Callanan, Transport Minister, has today confirmed the Government’s commitment to building additional capacity at Heathrow. Speaking at ABTA’s Travel Matters Conference, in his first address since he took on the role, the new aviation minister stated: “Heathrow is proceeding, and we’re committed to it”.
Lord Callanan acknowledged that the UK has slipped behind international competitors when it comes to airport capacity and confirmed that the Government is ‘pro-aviation and pro-travel’, underlying the essential role that aviation and travel play in the UK’s economy.
Additionally, he highlighted the importance of domestic routes, for the good of the rest of the UK, as well as outlining how the UK’s future growth requires deeper links with fast-growing economies.
Addressing the long-term prospects for the industry, Lord Callanan believes the travel and aviation sector is in a strong position. He stated: “I believe we should be confident” in relation to Brexit negotiations around air travel arrangements.
The rise in false holiday sickness claims was a hot topic during the conference. Speaking following the launch of ABTA’s “Stop Sickness Scams” campaign last week, and proposals set out by the Government in last week’s Queen’s Speech, to give increased powers to the Financial Conduct Authority to oversee and regulate Claims Management Companies (CMCs), the Minister said: “the evidence suggests there is a real issue here” in relation to some CMCs and their aggressive sales tactics. Other speakers, including Thomas Cook Group CEO Peter Fankhauser, said the issue had become an ‘embarrassment’ for the UK and its reputation overseas.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive commented: “We welcome Lord Callanan’s confirmation of the Government’s commitment to increasing airport capacity at Heathrow. This is essential not only to address the capacity challenges that the UK has today but to show the world that the UK is open for business post-Brexit. I was also pleased to see a united voice from the industry behind calls to address the dramatic rise in false holiday sickness claims, and I’d encourage everyone to support ABTA’s campaign to ensure the Ministry of Justice urgently addresses the fixed claims loophole that is allowing unscrupulous CMCs to thrive.”