Aviation chief attacks "prevarication" over airports policy

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The Government’s “prevarication” over aviation policy makes the performances in the BBC comedy Yes Minister “look like a class act,” according to one of the airline industry’s longest-serving leaders.

Mike Carrivick has fired a powerful parting shot at transport ministers as he retires on Friday as head of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), an influential industry body whose members include American Airlines, British Airways (Other OTC: BABAF.PK - news) , Emirates, Lufthansa (Xetra: 823212 - news) and Virgin Atlantic.

A third runway will be needed at Heathrow “regardless” of whether the Government decides Britain will ultimately require a new hub airport, said Mr Carrivick, who has been in the aviation industry for 47 years.

“Looking back to this decade, future generations will shake their heads in disbelief that policy decision-making took so long and the UK lost so much as a result,” he said.

Mr Carrivick’s attack on aviation policy comes after Sir Howard Davies, the man who has been charged with leading the Government’s latest aviation review, admitted crucial decisions on airport expansion had been kicked into the “long grass”.

The former Financial Services Authority boss will not deliver his verdict on critical issues such as additional Heathrow runways or a new Thames Estuary airport until after the next general election in 2015.

“We have seen so much prevarication and delay, that it makes the performances of 'Yes Minister’ look like a class act,” said Mr Carrivick.

“By the time any hub airport decision might be taken in 2015, a self-imposed delay of 12 years will have occurred since a comprehensive white paper in 2003, and that’s before any planning permissions have even been sought.”

Britain’s sky-high rate of Air Passenger Duty also came in for strong criticism in Mr Carrivick’s swan song message.

“The Government hasn’t missed an opportunity to tax the airline industry as harshly as possible,” the aviation chief, who spent 20 years at Australian airline Qantas, said.

“The evidence is there that the economy and the UK’s international reputation are being negatively impacted right now.

“We are beyond the tipping point where the Treasury should abandon the further increase next April and ultimately reduce the tax to a fair and proportionate level.”

Britain has the highest air passenger tax in the world.