Neil Pakey has been appointed chair of the Regional and Business Airports (RABA) Group, which represents smaller regional airports and general aviation airfields. Pakey will replace John Spooner, who has grown the group to its current membership of 33 regional and business airports since it was formed in 2013.
The driver for the Group has been the strong perception among its members that the UK government, and on occasion the European Commission, misunderstands or fails to recognize the role of smaller airports, tending to adopt ‘one size fits all’ policies tailored principally to the needs of larger UK airports. This inadvertently disadvantages or damages commercial and economic interests of RABA Group members and the wider stakeholder networks who support them.
Neil Pakey praised John Spooner for “leaving RABA in great shape having taken it from nothing more than a murmuring of discontent among a number of smaller airports, to a distinct and important voice in the industry.” Pakey added, “I intend to build on these initial efforts and with the support of our 33 airport members raise the understanding and appreciation of the economic and social roles they play in their catchments and in the wider UK aviation.
“We have identified a series of important themes that we wish to pursue, including deepening public appreciation of the relationship between connectivity and economic growth; pursuing the long-term sustainability of smaller airports; recognizing the special challenges these airports face and seeking appropriate policies to alleviate them; and increasing regional access of many of our member airports with the UK’s global hub at Heathrow and with other international hubs as required.
“Surveys have repeatedly shown that passengers prefer to use their local airport if they can; the smaller airports that RABA represents have a significant role to play in meeting this latent demand as well acting as catalysts for local economic development and the growth of large and medium sized cities.
“If the government provides us with a level playing field competitively and a supportive policy environment, then I am convinced by working with our local communities and wider stakeholder groups, we can make an important contribution to securing the balanced economic growth it is seeking in all four corners of the UK,” said Pakey.
July 11, 2016