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The Hidden Cost of Flying (2003)

Published in February 2003, this booklet by Brendon Sewill contains important material. It gives the calculation that the tax concessions for aviation amount to £9 billion a year, a figure that has gained general acceptance. It also contains the results of the re-run of the Department for Transport computer model which showed that, if air travel paid the same tax as car travel, no new runways would be required in the UK and that the economic benefit of building new runways would be negative.

This report was published in 2003, prior to the aviation White Paper. It deals with the economic aspects of airport expansion. Things have moved on, but the economic issues remain wholly relevant.

“Important decisions about the future of aviation are due to be announced around the end of 2003 in a White Paper covering the next thirty years. The Department for Transport (DfT) published consultation papers in July 2002 setting out proposals for expansion at many airports, with options for new runways at Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, East Midlands, and in Scotland; and possible new airports at Cliffe, at Church Lawford between Coventry and Rugby, and perhaps at Bristol. Following judicial review of the decision to exclude Gatwick, a further consultation is being undertaken.

The airlines are lobbying hard for expansion while, not surprisingly, the plans are creating substantial opposition. The environmental case against expansion is well known: the growing impact of aviation on climate change, noise and pollution around airports, destruction of landscape, wildlife and heritage.

This booklet, however, is designed to subject the economic case for aviation growth to critical examination.”The Hidden Cost of Flying