| Press Release - 6 October 2009
IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID!
If you want to support the UK economy - Stop Stansted Expansion! That was the simple message which SSE took to this year's Labour and Conservative party conferences.
The challenge of rebuilding the UK economy was the dominant theme at this year's party conferences providing SSE with an opportunity to drive home the message that cheap flights generate jobs and investment overseas at the expense of the domestic UK economy.
Using official Government statistics, SSE set out the key economic facts about airport expansion in a special conference leaflet entitled "Support the UK Economy" which highlighted the link between the growth in cheap overseas leisure flights and the spiralling deficit in the UK trade balance on overseas travel and tourism.
The leaflet pointed out, for example, that:
* The UK trade deficit on air travel and tourism has grown from just £2.3billion in 1996 to £20.2 billion in 2008, coinciding with the boom in low-cost overseas leisure flights;
* Stansted Airport has grown almost five-fold over the same period;
* Ryanair accounts for 67% of Stansted's passengers and easyJet for 20% and both are focused on providing leisure flights rather than business flights for UK residents;
* It isn't possible to fly direct from Stansted to any of Europe's main business centres such as Paris, Zurich or Frankfurt but there are daily flights to Torremolinos and Tenerife.
SSE handed out 1000 copies of the leaflet at the two conferences, including copies given personally to Chancellor Alistair Darling, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and a host of other Cabinet Ministers, Shadow Ministers and other leading politicians and national journalists and broadcasters.
SSE's factual summary of the economic realities of airport expansion also proved invaluable at conference fringe meetings as a basis for stimulating debate and exposing the illusory nature of many of the claims made by the aviation industry about the economic benefits of airport expansion.
Commenting on the success of the leaflet campaign SSE Economics Adviser Brian Ross said: "When the facts are properly presented, politicians begin to realise that a second Stansted runway would not only have some disastrous environmental consequences but would also further weaken the UK economy, which would be complete madness, especially in the current circumstances."
He added: "With the General Election campaign just months away and the UK economy needing all the help it can get, this was exactly the right moment to highlight to leading politicians the fact that a second Stansted runway would be a net drain on the UK economy."
NOTES TO EDITORS
* Copy of the leaflet is accessible here
* SSE's last major campaign at the Party Conferences was in 2005 when it provided delegates with free 'BAA Monopoly Board' beer mats ("Fantastic fun for just one player"), to launch its campaign for a break-up of BAA's stranglehold on the UK airports market, particularly its monopoly control of London's three biggest airports.
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091, firstname.lastname@example.org