ACOG BCC Roundtables
Businesses from a number of areas in the UK have been finding out about the importance of upgrading the UK’s vital airspace infrastructure, via a roundtable series hosted by ACOG in conjunction with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
It is estimated that airspace modernisation could help facilitate an increase in UK GDP by £30bn (Source: PA Report) thanks to the role aviation plays in connecting businesses to markets and customers across the globe.
Mark Swan, Head of ACOG, has been leading the discussions at the three events so far held in Glasgow, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Below we’re taking a look at each of the events in more detail, looking at what businesses are saying about the major airspace upgrade taking place in the UK.
In Glasgow we were joined by a range of voices including Gavin Newlands MP, who has long advocated for the programme in parliament, alongside business representatives from across construction, events, academia, technology, and finance.
Perhaps most exciting for members of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce is Scotland’s leading role in the program. Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports are part of the Scottish Terminal Manoeuvring Area (TMA) and are on track to be the first group of airports to implement airspace changes over the next few years. Scotland’s success is set to be an example for the rest of the UK to follow.
The event in Glasgow facilitated a fascinating discussion with local businesses. There were questions about how new technological developments, such as drones and air taxis, would be considered in airspace change plans. Modernising our airspace will make it easier to accommodate these new entrants. There was general excitement and support for airspace modernisation, especially as Scotland is at the vanguard of the whole programme.
It was acknowledged that modernisation will help make Britain, and specifically Scotland and Glasgow, more connected with the rest of the world and a more attractive place to visit and trade. It was pointed out that as businesses around the world become more conscious of decarbonisation, it was important to make travel to and from Glasgow as efficient as possible.
In Manchester, we were joined by members of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, including business representatives from across aviation, construction, government and finance. It was clear that many businesses are eager to learn more about the potential new opportunities airspace modernisation could bring – and, just as importantly, the potential delays it can prevent.
Many of the UK’s larger airports are important not only for passenger travel but also for air freight. Manchester Airport is no different. The World Freight Terminal at Manchester Airport handles over 50,000 tonnes of cargo each year.
The airport also helps to support over 60,000 jobs directly or indirectly across the north of England.
It is no surprise then that the businesses at the event were eager to learn what impact airspace modernisation would have on reducing delays for business and cargo flights and unlocking wider economic opportunities.
Attendees left the discussion with a clearer understanding of the benefits of airspace modernisation. They learned that modernisation will not only enable an increase in capacity but also make journeys more efficient, enhance punctuality, and decrease emissions and noise impacts.
Additionally, as air freight accounts for 40% of the UK’s imports and exports value, modernisation is imperative for businesses in Manchester and the North of England, who rely on aviation to transport their goods globally.
The roundtable provided a valuable opportunity to discuss the benefits of modernisation with Manchester businesses, leaving them better informed and able to articulate the rationale behind it.
ACOG’s roundtable in Edinburgh gave us the opportunity to meet with local business owners and decision makers, including Daniel Johnson MSP, to discuss the potential benefits airspace modernisation holds for the city.
We heard from a diverse range of voices from both within and outside the aviation sector and it was great to be able to discuss how airspace modernisation could benefit so many different industries. For example representatives from the events industry pointed out that Edinburgh’s impressive annual calendar of events was the equivalent to hosting a World Cup every year. Many of the visitors to these events come through Scotland’s airspace and the effect of making it more efficient could have significant environmental and economic benefits.
It was great to see the interest in and support for airspace modernisation, while also being able to answer questions about the technicalities of the programme and ACOG’s role within it. What is really exciting for members of Edinburgh’s Chamber of Commerce is that the Scottish airports are on track to be the first groups of airports in the UK to deliver airspace modernisation.
Airspace modernisation holds the potential to make Scotland more connected with the rest of the world and a more sustainable place to hold events, study and do business. It can help Edinburgh do what it does best, even better.