PASSENGERS’ EXPERIENCES OF AIR TRAVEL
EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001 HRS ON THURSDAY 26 JULY 2007
Security is a matter of vital importance to us all. The report of the Transport Select Committee on Passengers’ Experiences of Air Travel is published today. It is clear that heightened security checks at airports could create potential new targets for terrorists. Queues of hundreds of passengers in cramped spaces constitute a real hazard. It is essential to speed up check-in times and reduce queues as a priority. The recent attack on Glasgow airport shows that moving passengers more swiftly through airports will reduce the threat to the travelling public.
The Committee accepts that security procedures are absolutely fundamental. However the MPs say that since the events of 10 August 2006 there have been extra pressures on airports to deal with complicated new procedures.
The full benefits of new and improved check-in facilities cannot be realised because of changes to security policy demanded by other countries. Wherever possible the Government must move more swiftly to keep airports informed of such changes, says the Committee. The Government should also step in and assist with emergency staff or funds if required.
The number of passengers breaching the carry-on restrictions is also a cause for concern. The general public must be persuaded of the need for good security and there appears to be some confusion between the airports and the Government about carry-on restrictions.
Chairman of the Committee the Hon Gwyneth Dunwoody MP said: “Because of the necessary measures that are now in place, passengers are finding it more uncomfortable and time consuming to begin their journeys. Security is the issue which currently has the most significant impact on passengers’ experiences of air travel.”
“228 million passengers travelled through UK airports in 2005. The Government anticipates this will rise to between 400 to 600 million by 2030. Passengers need to enjoy their air travel if airports and airlines are to get a growing share of the market. However we are clearly in trouble if our citizens are not buying in to national security policies.”
The Committee was particularly critical of the standards of low cost carriers. Mrs Dunwoody said: “Airlines with “ten pound” flights and ten-penny managements do themselves no favours if they do not adhere to the standards adopted by the industry. We commend low cost airlines such as easyJet and Flybe that not only accept their responsibilities to their customers but serve as an example to some of their competitors.”
Other recommendations in the report include:
Airlines should always advertise additional fees, taxes and charges up-front online and in print.
The Government should undertake a review of telephone charges for airline bookings.
There must be a better definition of the current regulations so airlines cannot routinely claim “extraordinary circumstances” to avoid paying compensation for cancelled flights.
As recommended in an earlier report, there should be a mandatory arrangement for financial protection of air travellers.
BAA should no longer remain a monopoly.
The access to airports by public transport must be improved. Some of the increased Air Passenger Duty should be invested in this area.
There should be a review of car parking charges and the ability of off-site parking providers to compete fairly with airport car parks.
The Government should support Airtrack through the planning process and give Crossrail its full support, and give its backing to train/light rail links to regional airports.
A more standardised fare system for taxis to and from Heathrow airport should be considered.
Lost and mishandled baggage is one of the biggest areas of complaint. More robust systems need to be developed to prevent the loss and mishandling of baggage.
The Transport Committee’s 8th Report of the 2006-07 Session, Passengers’ Experiences of Air Travel (HC 435), will be published on Thursday 26 July at 0001 hrs. Media representatives who would like to receive a PDF copy of the report should contact Select Committee Media Officer Laura Kibby on 020 7219 0718 or 07917 488 557.
Copies of the report may be purchased from The Stationery Office Ltd (tel: 08457 023474). Please allow a short interval after the publication hour has passed for the upload on TSO’s website to copy across to the Committee’s website (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtran.htm).
Press Notice 48/2006-07
25 July 2007