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Minister holds out hope for airfields under threat

PUBLISHED: 14:26 22 August 2014 | UPDATED: 14:26 22 August 2014

Cabinet Minister without portfolio Grant Shapps MP has said that the government will soon evaluate whether a strategic network of General Aviation airfields is now required in order to protect jobs, training and growth in the sector for the long term. Mr Shapps made comments during an interview with industry journal Flight Training News.

The review comes as part of the government’s response to a General Aviation Challenge Panel Report, which was published at AeroExpo in June. The panel pointed out that the lack of a strategic overview of airfields meant that licensed aerodromes are closing at an alarming rate – putting this entire job-creating sector under threat.

Speaking in advance of the government’s response to the Challenge Panel this Autumn, Mr Shapps said, “There is already a Department for Transport tendering process underway in order to establish the full scale of the contribution made by General Aviation to our economy. We will then carry out an evaluation of the need for a strategic network of general aviation airfields in order to support more jobs and growth in the UK.”

Mr Shapps, who has long been a proponent of cutting red tape, says that the most recent research showed that GA adds around £1.4bn to the UK economy each year and supports up to 50,000 jobs directly and indirectly. “Not only can GA inspire the next generation, but it can also train [it] too - and not just as pilots. So we need to protect the sector.”

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