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UK aviation on runway to ridicule

Qatar Holding's decision to invest further in the United Kingdom's airport infrastructure comes at a time when the country's aviation policy is in disarray.

Qatar Holding's decision to invest further in the United Kingdom's airport infrastructure comes at a time when the country's aviation policy is in disarray.

While it, and other sovereign investment funds, might be pouring money in, the world's airlines are becoming more vociferous in their condemnation of what is on offer.

Lack of landing slots, airport congestion and a total lack of vision when it comes to what to do to fix it, is what they allege. "The UK aviation scene is riddled with confusion, lethargy and incompetence," notes one of the world's leading aviation consultancies, The Centre for Aviation.

"Already stifled by the world's highest passenger taxes, at one stage there were no less than four inquiries in progress or planned to examine what the country should do about its [perceived] lack of airport infrastructure. Now there is only one - the Davies Commission, which will not report until 2015."

Boris Johnson, the London mayor, is arguing for a new £39 billion (Dh231.08bn) airport in the Thames Estuary, capable of handling 150 million passengers a year, but this latest deal over Heathrow tends to suggest the big investors have lost faith in that happening. The obvious solution, to build a third runway at Heathrow, is a non-starter because of feared electoral fallout, while the option of adding a second runway at Gatwick Airport is banned until 2019.

dblack@thenational.ae

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