Competition, Connections and Balanced Growth – Aviation and Britain’s place in the world


  • 04/10/2016
    12:45 - 14:00
An IEA and London Gatwick event at the Conservative Party Conference.

Please note that this event is taking place inside the secure zone and a conference pass will be required to attend. They can be purchased from the Conservative Party here. There is no need to book a seat in advance, seating is first come, first served.

About the event

The break-up of BAA has been a great free-market success story, with greater competition between airports leading to lower fares, more choice and better service for passengers. As the UK looks to secure its new relationship with international markets, a solution on airport expansion must be achieved as soon as possible and with competition at its heart. The UK needs to take decisive action on infrastructure that delivers quickly and signals to the world that Britain is open for business. In that context, we ask: how do we embrace free-market principles to secure the UK’s connectivity to important global markets; how can that solution best ensure the growth from expansion are well distributed throughout the UK; how can we ensure the benefits of expansion are shared with local residents; how can we finally get a decision on runway expansion after years of stagnation?

The privatisation of airlines and airports has been a great free-market success story, yet the debate about capacity remains overwhelmingly political. The question of the moment is which London airport should be allowed to expand but the real problem is removing politics from the equation and ensuring a competitive market. Centralised decision making needs to move aside in favour of fiscal decentralisation, local autonomy and direct democracy. If all UK airports were able to consider expansion, market mechanisms would find the best options for increasing capacity and ensuring the benefits extend beyond the capital. Could compensation mechanisms be introduced to allow airports to find agreements with local residents? Could tax revenue generated by airports stays in the local area to ensure residents benefit from better services?


  • Mark Littlewood, Director General, IEA (Chair)

  • Stewart Wingate, CEO, London Gatwick

  • Steve Norris, Former London Mayoral Candidate and Transport Minister

  • David Winstanley, COO, Birmingham Airport

  • Rt Hon Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet



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