Airlines are dismayed that the Government will announce a further delay to its consultation on airport expansion in the south east.
The consultation, which was originally due to begin in March, was expected to be included in transport minister Justine Greening's aviation policy paper to be published today.
However, according to a report in The Times, transport minister Greening has left airport expansion in the south east out of the paper, which focuses instead on regional airports and dealing with noise and aircraft emissions.
She is expected to tell parliament that the Government is prepared to consider airport expansion in the south east, but not until the autumn.
BAR UK chief executive Mike Carrivick said: "Delaying important decisions until later in the year demonstrates a lack of courage and the paralysis afflicting strategic policy making within the Government."
The Coalition is in an awkward position as the Conservatives - including Justine Greening - are opposed to a third runway at Heathrow and the Liberal Democrats are against expansion at Gatwick and Stansted.
"Whilst this Government struggles internally to establish a clear and defined hub airport policy for the future, competing nations will continue to take away the trade and commerce that should be welcomed in this country," added Carrivick.
"The message from exporters and importers is clear. They need the best connectivity and frequency for commerce to expand and also require clarity for the future so that they can plan for their own businesses. Many of our member airlines wish to expand their UK services to meet the market needs but the lack of policy is driving them to other countries."
Carrivick warned that "continued prevarication" was damaging business and employment prospects.
By Linsey McNeill
Thursday, July 12, 2012