AIRPORT bosses are calling on the Government to put the North-East at the heart of its new strategy for the skies to safeguard the region’s economy in a post-Brexit world.
Graeme Mason, from Newcastle International Airport, said investing in region’s aviation capabilities was ‘crucial’ in preserving the interests of the region’s companies once the country withdraws from the European Union.
Mr Mason, the airport’s planning and corporate affairs director, said the ability to trade in foreign markets further afield was entirely dependent on enhanced air travel.
He spoke as Aviation Minister Lord Callanan visited the airport as part of the launch of consultation to determine how the industry is shaped over the next 30 years.
Mr Mason said: “Regional business have said for them to grow and to trade in a post-Brexit world, to get to the markets, they need the airport and they need the air connections.
“It is about moving the regional airport forward and flight is absolutely at the heart of the regional economy.
“We are going to have to trade more with other parts of the world so aviation is critical.”
Mr Mason said the airport employs 3,500 people and Emirates routes to Dubai connect to hundreds of destinations in the Far East and South East.
As part of the consultation for air travellers, passengers are to be asked for their views on innovative improvements such as luggage check-in facilities in town centres, a “luggage portering” service, and new forms of noise reduction.
The ideas are part of a discussion document launched by the Department for Transport today (Friday, July 21) to help shape the future of the aviation industry to 2050 and beyond.
Lord Callanan’s tour of the airport, led by operations’ director Richard Knight, included a new hi-tech system being used to handle baggage.
Lord Callanan said: “There is lots of technology we can take advantage of and these are the sorts of things we want brought forward so can include them into our strategy.
“All businesses in the regions, particularly like the North-East, which is relatively peripheral, benefit from good transport links. “No question about it and the airport is a key transport link for the region.”
The consultation, launched by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, is designed look at how the Government can support future growth in the industry.
Aviation directly supports 240,000 jobs and contributes at least £22 billion to the UK economy each year.
Mr Grayling said: “Aviation is central to our future prosperity as we leave the European Union.
“It will support jobs and economic growth across the whole of the UK.”