visits the AOA Annual Conference and Exhibition in London

London Hilton Metropole, October 22-23: The UK Airport Operators Association Annual Conference and Exhibition is a superb meeting place of airport and airline CEOs, industry leaders and politicians. And guess what? The expo alongside is produced and managed by’s parent company, PPS Publications! A curious went along this week to hear what they said:

Emirates CEO Tim Clark speaking at the AOA conference.

Above: Emirates’ President Tim Clark: “When the European economies rebounce, demand will come from everywhere – but the UK will miss out on this great opportunity, if nothing is actually done about airport capacity.”

Jim French, Flybe’s CEO chats with Assistant Editor, Magdalena Fas.

Above: Jim French, Flybe’s CEO, chats with’s Assistant Editor, Magdalena Fas: “London Heathrow is not a real hub, only a third of passengers transfer.” (Actually, thinks that’s still pretty high, Jim!) French also told us what his “dream airport” model is: “I’d rather have 40 new security check-points than 40 check-in desks.”

UK Transport Minister, Simon Burns (left) and Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport (right).

Left: Yes Minister: Although there is widespread concern about lack of aviation policy in the UK, which has put a third Heathrow runway on and off the agenda, the UK Transport Minister, Simon Burns, claimed that the UK Government is committed to implementing the findings of Davies Commission on airport connectivity. (The all-party-supported Davis Commission reports in 2015.) Right: Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport: “The UK government has a particular sense of geography, with little focus outside of London. The fact is, manufacturing is coming home, and direct long-haul services are increasingly viable from the regions.”

Dubai Airport’s CEO, Paul Griffiths.

Above: Dubai Airport’s CEO, Paul Griffiths: “There are obvious benefits of having the same government for several decades, as airport planning decisions are politically toxic.”

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Commercial Director (far left).

Above: John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Commercial Director (far left). The airport says that almost 90% of the airlines it questioned in a survey claimed they would not come to the UK at all if they cannot get Heathrow slots.


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