UK domestic flights criticised

BOSSES at Stansted Airport have today said if people used trains instead of planes to travel to destinations in Britain it would make little difference to the number of flights.

BOSSES at Stansted Airport have today said if people used trains instead of planes to travel to destinations in Britain it would make little difference to the number of flights.

Campaigners believe internal flights in a country the size of Britain should be unnecessary.

Tory leader David Cameron has nailed his colours to the mast and says if he is elected prime minister, the plans a second runway at Stansted will be ditched.

“What we support is the high speed rail link option from London to Birmingham and Manchester which we think would radically reduce the number of internal flights and take the pressure off airport expansion,” he said.

But Mark Davison, head of media relations at Stansted, said rail was not always quicker than flying.

“It's not as if a new rail line to Birmingham, and then Manchester - with a build programme at least 20 years, costing the UK taxpayer tens of billions of pounds and with considerable environmental impacts - is the solution to the shortage of airport capacity, especially in the south-east,” he said.

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“Just 32,000 passengers a year at Stansted would perhaps have an alternative to flying - that's less than half the number of passengers passing through the airport each day, and only 0.1 per cent of the overall total.

“We don't actually see this as an issue of plane verses train - we believe there is a need for both, and this is recognised by the fact that we already have the leading position in the UK for airport passengers using public transport to and from Stansted.”

The CAA's latest air passenger survey highlighted the key role rail plays - 45pc of passengers at Stansted use public transport.

“The nearest any airport gets to this is Heathrow at 38pc. Manchester and Liverpool, for example lag in at just 11pc and 14pc respectively,” said Mr Davison.

Airports are adamant medium and long-term forecasts point to the need for expansion of airports in the UK, despite the current economic crisis.

Should we be flying less? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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