A new report which has been commissioned by London City Airport has given the verdict that a return to air travel for business would help boost the economy to the tune of £1 billion. And it appears that the majority of business leaders are all for travelling by air with 64% of those surveyed believing that it is essential to facilitate business on a face-to-face basis.
There will certainly be some that will quibble over the return to more air travelling. More air travel means more air pollution and this will not go down well with environmentalists. They will argue that Zoom meetings are the way forward for businesses and that there is no longer a need for face-to-face meetings. There is also the small matter of delayed and cancelled flights right now which are disrupting travel.
Getting Back To The Level Of Pre-Pandemic Air Travel
However businesses are fully expecting to get back to the level of pre-pandemic air travel in the next few months and Matthew Hall, chief executive at George Best Belfast City Airport, speaking about the report published by WPI Economics on the Irish News website, said that:
“The report has revealed the dependence business leaders place on air travel to and from Northern Ireland, and this is reflected in the increasing demand we are seeing from corporates.
“Our airline partners are gradually increasing capacity and frequency to ensure flexibility and convenience to business passengers. To that end, we will facilitate up to 15 daily services to London this summer and with hub access through Heathrow, Amsterdam, Birmingham and Manchester, business passengers can connect to a global network.
“Despite a surge in virtual communication throughout the pandemic, technology is now being used to complement rather than replace face to face interaction, which 64 per cent of local business leaders stated as crucial.
“The economic benefits of a speedy return to travel are undeniable, potentially amounting to an additional £1bn for the Northern Irish economy.”
Air Connectivity To & From Northern Ireland Is Crucial
And in the same article Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton said:
“Being located on an island off an island, and in the absence of a UK-wide rail network, air connectivity to and from Northern Ireland is crucial as an economic enabler.
“The return of business air travel will be key to the wider economic prosperity of the region whilst supporting and creating thousands of jobs.
“So it’s no surprise almost two thirds of local business leaders view air travel as essential to their business and is why building on the great work of the team at Belfast City Airport in establishing new connections is so central to the future economic success of our city and wider region.”
The economy needs all the help it can get right now so a return to more business activity, whether airborne or not, can only be welcomed.