The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has called for an expansion of the country's airports, urging the government to draw up a long-term aviation policy that includes adding a runway in south-east England.
The authority warned that without a credible, long-term aviation policy framework that focuses on consumers, not airlines or airports, there would be a rise in fares, route choices would be limited and the UK economy would be affected. The report estimates that air fares will increase by £10 per passenger on a return flight, which could amount to £1.7bn in fare premiums by 2030.
"Additional capacity would offer significant benefits for consumers and for the UK as a whole, so long as it is delivered in an environmentally sustainable way," said CAA chief executive Andrew Haines. "However, as we haven't built a single runway in the south-east of England capable of handling Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s for over 70 years, the difficulty of increasing capacity is obvious."
The CAA report states that if airport capacity is not expanded, UK airports may struggle to handle the growth in aviation demands from emerging markets such as China, India and South America. The policy should benefit UK consumers with the government supporting the sustainable hub operations.
Consumers who do not live in the south of the country use a variety of means to travel to international airports; the policy should encourage access improvements to a range of European hub airports. The framework should also ensure a high level of short-haul connectivity to international airports; if not, it should be maintained at current levels.
"The challenge facing the government is to create an aviation policy that stands the test of time - not a policy for five years, but one for 30 years," Haines said.
About 90% of the UK's population stay within a two-hour journey from at least two airports serving international flights, while 70% live within a one-hour trip, the report stated.