London is a connected, global city – an attractive place to work, do business, and to set up a headquarters. Central to that appeal are its bonds with Europe.
We’ve always been a trading city, and there are historic reminders of that at London City Airport. Located in London’s Royal Docks, the steel tracks that once transported goods and imports in the 19th century can still be seen running parallel to the runway.
Trade today is facilitated by air travel, and the airport is inherently connected to the business heartbeat of Europe. The majority of our passengers fly on business to almost 40 European destinations including Zurich, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. Around 68% of business trips from the UK are to EU countries and 73% of business arrivals are from the EU – in 2014 that was 4.6 million outbound and 6 million inbound journeys. These journeys are vital to the UK’s success as a trading nation.
Because of our proximity to London’s commercial centres, City Airport is responsible for £11 billion of UK trade exports. Last year we saw more trips than ever before, welcoming 4.3 million passengers through our doors.
City Airport is not alone – we operate in the world’s busiest airports system. Heathrow welcomed 75 million passengers last year, Gatwick broke 40 million and Stansted hit double digit growth and attracted 22.5 million passengers.
Why is this growth in passengers flying important? It's important because there is a direct correlation between more people flying and the upturn in the performance of the UK economy.
Much of the credit for the huge growth in passengers belongs to the EU’s "Open Skies" policy. Without "Open Skies" the UK would not have such a dynamic mix of flag carriers and low-cost carriers. Nor would we have the passenger protections we enjoy today such as compensation for flight delays, or access to healthcare across the EU.
This has created a favourable market in which we can all do business, support tourism and directly benefit UK plc.
The European Union has served UK air passengers well. Don’t take just my word for it – listen to Paul Kahn from Airbus, Mark Tanzer from ABTA, Dame Carolyn McCall from Easyjet and even Michael O’Leary from Ryanair! What concerns us and unites us currently is that leaving the EU would be a leap in the dark for UK aviation and the passengers we serve.
If the UK were to leave the EU, its airlines would no longer enjoy automatic access to this market, or have the freedom to operate anywhere within the EU without restrictions on capacity, frequency or pricing. Brexit would also undermine the free flow of trade and travel. Whether you travel for business or leisure that could mean fewer routes, less choice, higher airfares and a UK capital city that suddenly looks very isolated.
On 23rd June, a vote to leave will bring uncertainty to the UK economy and remove us from the single market, which currently drives competition, fuels demand, creates jobs and makes us better off. Now is not the time for a dangerous leap into the unknown. As an eminent singer once sang: "you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone".