London City Airport boss: “New Taskforce can give business air travel a much needed shot in the arm”


The importance of domestic and international travel to the economic prospects of individual businesses and the wider economy is highlighted today in a new report by WPI Strategy. The report reveals the majority of UK business leaders see air travel as key to their future economic prospects and would return to the skies if quarantine measures were eased.

According to new polling of 515 business leaders by Survation contained within the report:

  • 64% of UK business leaders see air travel as key to their future prospects
  • 88% of leaders of businesses with over 250 employees believe air travel is important to the future success of their business
  • 48% thought that the Government’s travel and quarantine restrictions was the single biggest barrier to business air travel
  • 76% believe that airport testing would increase confidence when travelling

The chief executive of London City Airport has urged the new Global Travel Taskforce to move quickly to get business air travel up and running again.

Welcoming the creation of the Taskforce as a positive first step forward, Robert Sinclair, said that he hoped the group would “acknowledge the fundamental importance of business air travel to the economic recovery prospects of the UK and other sectors such as hospitality and leisure.” Sinclair, supported by a range of industry and political voices, urged the Taskforce to move with the utmost speed, setting out a clear roadmap for the introduction of a testing regime which would ultimately lead to the elimination of quarantine. This call is also supported by  KLM who operate services from their global hub in Amsterdam to 15 airports across the UK.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, London City Airport, said:

“The UK aviation industry is the third largest in the world and a global success story.  But it is not just an industry itself, it also acts as an enabler of other industries such as trade, tourism, hospitality, imports, exports and conferences.  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.  Doing so could deliver a much-needed shot in the arm for business air travel, boosting economic growth across every region and every sector.” 

New data within the report also underlines the importance of domestic aviation to the UK economy. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the total value of domestic aviation in the UK was in the order of £15billion.

Proportionate to passenger numbers, the authors breakdown the impact of domestic aviation on GDP by UK regions and nations as in the order of:

  • Scotland: £4bn
  • North-East: £300m
  • North-West; £1bn
  • Northern Ireland: £2bn
  • South-West: £700m
  • London: £4bn
  • Midlands: £500m
  • Wales (just Cardiff): £80m

Sinclair was backed by business leaders and politicians from across the UK who are concerned that the government’s plans for levelling up the country and increasing the UK’s trade links could be at risk without a speedy introduction of testing.

Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon and Chair, APPG on Business Travel, said:

“The economic recovery will be led by the business community and the ability to travel will be key. Business travel adds huge economic value directly and indirectly on industries like events and conferences amongst many others. 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.”