Low-cost airlines cost business - claim

CHEAP flights abroad from Stansted airport are having a huge damaging impact on tourism in the east of England, according to campaigners' research.Airport owner BAA is seeking permission to handle an extra ten million passengers a year - which is more than either Luton or Birmingham airports currently handle.

CHEAP flights abroad from Stansted airport are having a huge damaging impact on tourism in the east of England, according to campaigners' research.

Airport owner BAA is seeking permission to handle an extra ten million passengers a year - which is more than either Luton or Birmingham airports currently handle.

But BAA admits just 290,000 of the extra passengers would be business users and that the additional capacity would primarily cater for more and more UK residents on cheap leisure breaks overseas.

The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign says this will just take more money out of the British economy and is putting up banners around the region urging people to “Support the British Economy - Stop Stansted Expansion”.


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SSE economics adviser Brian Ross said: “The purpose of this new phase in our campaign is to raise awareness of the adverse economic consequences of expanding Stansted Airport and to encourage a wider debate so as to challenge the longstanding myth that airport expansion is always good for the economy.

“Approving further expansion of Stansted Airport would undoubtedly serve the interests of its Spanish-owners and its main customer, Irish-owned Ryanair but this would entirely be at the expense of the UK economy and of the many thousands of taxpaying local residents around the airport who would suffer the consequences.”

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Figures published by the Office of National Statistics last month show the UK tourism deficit continues to grow rapidly.

During the first six months of this year, UK residents took 34.3 million overseas trips - almost double the number of trips to the UK by foreign visitors.

The difference in expenditure was even more marked. UK residents spent £17.7 billion abroad during the first six months of 2007 compared to £7.9 billion spent by foreign visitors to the UK.

SSE says the dramatic deterioration in the UK trade balance on inward and outward tourism over the past ten years coincides with the boom in cheap leisure flights and it has provided extensive evidence to the current public inquiry into the airport's expansion plans to demonstrate BAA's proposals would give rise to an even bigger UK trade deficit and cause further damage to the UK and East of England tourism industry.

BAA says business is growing rapidly and it needs to be able to use its runway to its maximum capacity to cater for this.

Do you think cheap flights should be encouraged or clamped down on? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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