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16 Sep 2015

BY Sophie Griffiths

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Corbyn brings mixed blessing for travel industry

The appointment of Jeremy Corbyn as the new Labour leader could be a mixed blessing for travel, according to industry experts.

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Perhaps the most concerning aspect of his appointment is the fact that the party is now likely to be in opposition to any kind of airport expansion.

This week Corbyn offered his anti-Heathrow expansion opinion to The Independent stating: “A third runway at Heathrow would mean 4,000 homes demolished and 10,000 people displaced. It would cause massive increases in noise and air pollution and inflict misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners. UK air pollution is already above EU limits, and 30,000 people are dying every year because of it.”

He added: “We should be ensuring our existing national and regional airports are linked effectively by public transport and work together to maximise existing capacity and help spread economic benefits across the country.”

London mayor hopeful Sadiq Khan, who was announced as the Labour candidate last week, is also vehemently opposed to a third runway at Heathrow, although he has previously advocated expansion at Gatwick airport.

“Labour in the main was largely supportive [of airport expansion] before Corbyn,” said Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies. “But with this lurch to the Left, they’re saying that they don’t see the need for airport expansion.”

The Airport Operators Association added: “The AOA has had a productive relationship with the Labour frontbench in recent years and we look forward to this continuing under the new leadership. We hope that the party will support our view that the UK needs a strong and vibrant airports sector that can play a major role in contributing to economic growth and increased connectivity right across the country.

“We will also do all we can to demonstrate that growth in aviation is not incompatible with progress on sustainability and that as a sector we can see an increase in passenger numbers and air movements at the same time as dealing with our environmental impact by delivering cleaner, quieter, smarter aviation.

“On airport expansion, we hope Labour will support the AOA’s position, welcoming the completion of the Airports Commission’s work and urging the Government to respond quickly to maintain momentum, remove uncertainty and ensure the UK gets the additional capacity it so vitally needs as soon as possible.”

With regards to tourism itself, Bowen offered a slightly more positive view. “The chances of getting a shadow dedicated tourism minister are greater now.

“The Conservatives have never really seen tourism as a proper business, but Labour has always recognised the benefits of it, and Corbyn is likely to particularly see the benefits that it brings to the regions.”

 

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