‘No doubt’ Brexit has damaged UK economy, says airports boss | Brexit

The head of Britain’s biggest airport group said there was “no doubt”. Brexit damaged the UK economy, adding that it had “massively worsened” the labor shortage.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, said recruitment problems were making the UK less competitive.

Manchester Airport was one of the sites has been hit hardest by disruptions this year as frontline staff shortages have been unable to cope with demand for travel following the COVID pandemic, with huge queues and chaotic scenes at security and baggage halls.

Speaking at the Airlines 2022 conference in London, Cornish said: “There is no doubt that Brexit has damaged the UK economy, 99% of leading economists will tell you that. You just have to look at growth rate now, and that’s important.”

He added: “If this continues, the UK’s ability to be competitive will diminish every year. We need the UK Government to look at how we can actually bring back a sensible plan for economic growth with aviation at the heart of it.”

Cornish said that while other factors such as Covid have structurally changed the workforce, the problem has been exacerbated by fewer Europeans returning to the UK. “This is damaging the ability of the UK aviation sector to recruit at scale and pace,” he said. “There was never such a problem before Brexit.”

He added: “Aviation is completely linked to GDP. We need to have an open conversation: how are we going to solve the problem of Brexit? If you look at the economic recovery in the EU, they are well ahead of the UK. No one will be able to say that it is not because of Brexit.”

Charlotte Vere, the aviation secretary, when asked later at the conference to name the benefits of Brexit for the industry, suggested that the UK would be able to modernize its airspace. “Our ability to continue airspace modernization is different from the EU’s ability … I see this as a limitation [on the EU]. From our point of view, I believe that we will be able to develop our aviation sector,” she said.

Willie Walsh, head of global airline organization IATA and former boss of British Airways owner IAG, said there were clear signs that UK aviation was recovering more slowly than in Europe.

“From everything I’ve seen, it’s hurt Britain,” he said. “I haven’t heard any politician articulate any benefits and I don’t see any benefits of Brexit for aviation. If you can’t admit there’s a negative, they won’t be able to fix it.”

Responding to Lady Vere’s comments, Walsh said: “Gosh, we’re an island, are we going to reform our airspace? What, can you fly from Heathrow to Manchester faster than today?’

Walsh said Iatta was confident the wider aviation industry would recover in 2023, despite the war in Ukraine and other economic difficulties. “Globally, we are seeing positive growth. Britain is an outcast.’

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/nov/21/no-doubt-brexit-damaged-uk-economy-says-airports-boss ‘No doubt’ Brexit has damaged UK economy, says airports boss | Brexit

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