A session at the recent British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) annual conference sought to address how to support small airports in the UK and develop a strategic policy to maintain this infrastructure.
At the session, John Gilder, co-chair of the General Aviation Awareness Council and the Airports Working Group of the All Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation, advocated for a strategic airfield network review on how these airfields are used. “We would like to examine if these sites are in the right place. Most small airports are disproportionately concentrated in the east of the British Isles. Do we need more, can we afford to lose some? We’ve been waiting some time for government approval to start this and agree to the funding,” he said.
A panel addressing small UK airports, chaired by Marc Bailey, tackled the urgent need for support. This is especially so because airports are “brownfield sites” and thus are easy targets for housing and commercial redevelopment.
“If there was a suggestion to fill in Portsmouth Harbor to accommodate housing or commercial development, there would be an outcry,” said Steve Ford, founder of consultancy Sky Harbour UK. “Yet we have a situation where existing infrastructure is systematically being dismantled.”