5th August 2005

Rapid growth in air travel is unsustainable – economically and environmentally

Friends of the Earth has today issued a new study showing that airport expansion is bad for the East of England’s economy.  Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has issued the following comment for journalists’ use if required in connection with the news.  Links to the study and to the Friends of the Earth press release are given in Notes below.

Attributable to Brian Ross, Economics Adviser, SSE:

“The official Government statistics show that air travel was responsible for a whopping £15 billion balance of payments deficit for Britain last year. In 2004, British residents made more than 50 million overseas trips by air compared to only 20 million overseas residents flying in to visit Britain.”

“It beggars belief that the Government continues to give massive tax exemptions to the aviation industry which is not only the fastest growing cause of global warming but also a massive drain on regional economies throughout the UK.”

“The Government needs to explain how it benefits our economy to subsidise an Irish airline buying American aeroplanes to transport millions of British people to spend their money abroad.”

“In promoting endless airport expansion, the aviation industry seems to be saying ‘To hell with the planet and to hell with the national economy, our business interests come first.'”

NOTES
Brian Ross can be contacted for further information and comment via SSE Office: 01279 870558

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH PRESS RELEASE – Friday 5 August 2005

Airport expansion is bad for the East of England’s economy, new research shows
The boom in flights from airports in the East of England is coming at a hefty cost to the local economy, with the region losing almost five times more revenue than it gains from aviation, according to new research published today by Friends of the Earth using data from the Office of National Statistics. UK air travelers using the region’s airports are spending £1.9 billion more abroad per year more than foreign visitors flying in to the region, contradicting claims that airport expansion is good for the economy.

The situation could get a lot worse if the region’s airports, Stansted, Norwich, Southend and Luton, expand to cater for further growth in passenger numbers. The number of trips abroad by UK residents would increase far more than the number of visitors to the UK. The proposed expansion would lead to an annual deficit to the region of £3.8 billion by 2020. Popular tourist destinations, such as the Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Hunstanton are particularly likely to suffer.

Available in full from Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth, T 0113 389 9960 or M 07940 850328, Email  richardd@foe.co.uk

The full Friends of the Earth report ‘Why airport expansion is bad for regional economies’ can be accessed online at: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/regional_tourism_deficit.pdf

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport