“My principal argument is that after sixty years [of inaction] we really need to get on with something.” So said Graham Brady MP during a New Statesman-hosted round table debate on aviation capacity earlier this summer. Sir Roy McNulty, chairman of Gatwick Airport (our partner in putting together this supplement) agreed, describing the need as “staringly obvious” while Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce talked of “massive constraint”.
Government figures suggest 35 million passengers will be left grounded every year from 2050 if the status quo remains.
So far, so consensual. But while the prognosis is broadly, if not universally, agreed, the nature of the cure divides opinion. The discussion to date has been underwritten by a series of assumptions about the future shape of air travel. Here conventional wisdom is being traded as fact and conclusions are being drawn that urgently need revisiting.
As the title of this supplement – “Rethinking the debate on aviation capacity” – suggests, these pages are an attempt to challenge some of those assumptions. It is aimed at the expert and non-expert reader alike.
16 September 2013