Commons Gate

Future of Aviation (HC 499-iv)

Transport Committee 1 Jul 2009

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Evidence given by Virgin Atlantic Airways: Steve Ridgway CBE, Chief Executive; easyJet: Andy Harrison, Chief Executive Officer; Board of Airline Representatives in the UK: Michael Carrivick, Chief Executive; Association of Independent Tour Operators: Noel Josephides, AITO Director;
BAA Airports: Colin Matthews, Chief Executive Officer; Airports Operators Association: Ed Anderson, Executive Chairman; Peel Airports Group: Neil Pakey, Deputy Chief Executive Officer; TAG Farnborough Airport: Brandon O'Reilly. Chief Executive

Q351 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): Just on the biofuels, do you think it is not a bit of a red herring to the extent that we can only produce so much biofuels in the world and whether it is being used in a motor car or used in an aeroplane does not really matter? If you do not use it, they will use it in motor vehicles.

Mr Ridgway: I think it is a question of what are the different sectors, if you like, the large consumers of current fossil fuels? What are their sustainable solutions going to be, whether in power generation, wind and solar, whether in the motorcar industry and it becomes hybrids and hydrogen, clearly aviation will need a fuel and that is why it is pushing so hard to look at things like second, third, fourth generation algae. At the moment we are at the very beginning of it, but I certainly do not bury my head in the sand. I do not believe a Luddite approach to getting people off aircraft is going to be the solution. I think we have to find the technological solutions and there have to be both sticks and carrots to make that happen, and we are going to need to find the funds to invest in biofuels and biofuel development and at the same time make sure we do not go off cutting down forests. So it is a very complex overarching debate, but I have no doubt that there are the brains and there will be the technologies there so we can get there. I do not think we can see that right now, but I think if we were sitting around this table in ten years' time -


Q384 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): Just on the previous point, you said you lost a Continental flight to Italy?

Mr Pakey:: Yes.

Q385 Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): I cannot understand why people who might want to go to Liverpool would end up going to Italy. You have confused me!

Mr Pakey:: Right. Okay, I will try and explain but basically it is no different for a region selling to get an airline investment is no different to getting investments from other sectors and basically we work together with our regions to say to an airline, "Why should you fly into this region?" It is not because we have got a pretty airport or because we have got a statue of John Lennon, it is because there is a very strong Liverpool City region backed up by a very strong North West region and that has businesses and tourism potential, and all the rest of it. That airline then decides, "Where am I going to put my aircraft?" and he weighs up the case for Liverpool against weighing up the case for Pisa in this instance. I will have finished a meeting with an airline and the chap behind me will be from Pisa or Stockholm, or somewhere else, and they will be putting the case for that region, why am I going to get your airline to fly to me, and the airline only has maybe one asset that he has got something he can do with at that time, or maybe half a dozen and he has got a wider choice. We are competing against Pisa and against other European people and we have matured, and Manchester have matured alongside us. We are no longer at each other's throats and we actually recognise that, goodness me, the competition is out there in Europe and we have common issues, so we are obviously very closely aligned with Manchester on some of these points about getting us a level playing field with Europe on that issue. Does that help?

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle): It does, yes.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

The full transcript may be read here.

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB