Airport capacity central to economic growth

Airport 2 feb 2016The value of Bristol Airport to the economy of the city and south west region has been highlighted in Parliament by MP Karin Smyth.

The Bristol South MP told a debate how aviation has long been part of the city’s economic success story and explained how capacity of Bristol Airport is central to further growth.

But she sounded concerns about the impact of an upcoming key decision by Ministers surrounding the possible devolution of powers over Air Passenger Duty (APD) to the Welsh government.

“Bristol Airport generates over 11,000 jobs, many of which are located in my Bristol South constituency,” she said.

“Devolution of APD to Wales would effectively result in a redistribution of traffic away from Bristol Airport to Cardiff.

“Bristol Airport wants to continue investing in facilities, creating jobs, but APD devolution would stop the level playing field on which it currently operates.

“I am keen to see a Western Powerhouse built on our tremendous industrial past, our current and future business and leisure offer. The continued success of Bristol Airport is a key part this,” she added.

“The government should better acknowledge and support our regional airports and provide greater certainty to them about the rules in which they operate.”

The Labour MP explained how Bristol Airport has grown in recent years, the pivotal part that growth plays in the region’s economy, and the value of the airport not only to business travel but also in bringing further tourism to the region.

“Last year Bristol Airport handled nearly seven million passengers, making it the ninth busiest airport in the UK and a major regional resource for Bristol, the west of England, the south west and South Wales.

“Its performance is good, and despite being the ninth largest it has been the most punctual in the UK two years running and 10th most punctual in the world, which we’re very proud of,” she said.

A government decision on the devolution of APD to Wales could be made in the Spring. If devolution of APD were granted it would enable the Welsh government to remove APD from Cardiff flights, potentially making it a cheaper option for passengers.

Karin Smyth’s comments were made in a special debate about regional airports and UK airports capacity. You can watch the speech in full here: