I thank Dr Alf for sharing this post about a new aviation strategy for the UK. Let me start by restating his first three open questions:
1. Why do you think that the UK aviation industry is not sufficiently focused on customer satisfaction compared to global peers?
The answer to Dr Alf’s first question is that UK airline executives like to live in London, or close to it, without regard to the distances that their staff and passengers have to travel to get to places like Heathrow and Gatwick. Heathrow was conceived in 1946, just after World War II, without any consideration for the residents of West London living under the flight path and Governments composed of elitist politicians were happy to go along with what was done and with the activities of the British Airports Authorities. Customer satisfaction is an American or foreign concept, largely alien to the UK, which has directors who pay lip service to the idea but are more interested in satisfying themselves and their bank managers. The airlines are run by people who think like this, plus the most extreme examples at BA, an airline full of ageing stewardesses, who see themselves as extremely attractive and passengers as people who should be eternally grateful to even be in their presence. The UK’s global peers in America, China, Germany and in Kuwait think that customers are more important because they do not have the same feelings of entitlement to wealth and to customer’s business.
2. Why does security technology in UK airports lag global competitors?
The answer to the second question is down to greed, in terms of not wanting to spend the money on up to date technology but rather to spend money on security guards and making people’s lives difficult, so that the furore created can be sold as “necessary security measures”.
3. Do you believe that existing allocation of scheduled routes, with traditional airlines like British Airways, supports effective competition, quality and service improvement?
Dr Alf’s third question suggests a resounding ‘no’ and my visits to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Melbourne, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, various American airports, Milan Linate and Jersey, all suggest to me that Heathrow, Gatwick, East Midlands Airport, Bristol and Luton, owned by the local authority, are light years behind their foreign counterparts. Stansted is perhaps an exception but still bears no comparison to the others in terms of both facilities or ease of transportation to and from the airport.
The remaining questions posed by Dr Alf require further thought and input.